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Bonnell attacks Sony over lack of PSP detail

Dissenting voice from Atari boss as $500 launch price point is predicted.

Atari chairman and CEO Bruno Bonnell has launched an attack on Sony over what he categorises as a failure by the Japanese company to provide important detail about the PSP - and predicted that the handheld console will launch at $500.

Speaking at a conference arranged by US financial group Piper Jaffrey earlier this week, Bonnell was outspoken in his criticism of Sony's positioning of the forthcoming device - arguing that there's simply not enough information available for publishers to make educated decisions about it.

"We saw pictures and a nice prototype at E3, but I want to see more," he told the audience at the conference. "Yeah, it's cool - it's nice, like a nice car. But we have no idea if the PSP pricing is going to be $250, $350 or $500."

The outspoken Atari boss placed his own prediction at the high end of that scale, saying that "$500 to start would be my guess" - a much higher estimate than those floated by other publishers or analysts, who have generally settled on an expected price range of between $249 and $349.

It isn't just the price that Bonnell says Sony needs to start providing information about, however. "What about the breakable aspects of it?" he asked. "If it breaks, can you bring it back and get another one for free? What about the movie strategy? The Wireless strategy? The MP3 downloading? We don't know. What about the connectivity issues? We don't know. What about the video output? We don't know."

One particularly telling comment, however, was on the topic of development costs - where Bonnell ranted that "From one cent to $50 million, I have no idea," claiming that there's no way to accurately predict costs on the device at this point.

This is an unusual comment - because one area where Sony has not skimped is on providing development tools for the PSP to its partners. Emulation systems have been in the hands of developers for months now, and many key partners, particularly in Japan, now have hardware development systems as well.

The PSP is due to launch in Japan at the end of this year, and in the USA and Europe in the first quarter of calendar 2005. The first playable software will not be demoed on the device until the Tokyo Games Show, which takes place at the end of September.

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