high-spec Next Generation Portable will come with a relatively hefty price tag of "$299 or higher in the U.S.," Lazard Capital analyst Colin Sebastian predicted.
In a research note on Thursday, the analyst cited the handheld's specifications and the "competitive landscape" in the portable gaming market. Sony has yet to confirm a launch date or pricing, but said the device will release by year-end.
A $299 price point would make the decked-out handheld as expensive as Sony's base 160GB PlayStation 3 high-definition home console, and more expensive than its upcoming portable competitor, Nintendo 3DS, which will sell for $250 in the U.S. when it launches in March.
When Sony's current handheld, the PSP, launched in 2005 in North America, the original price tag was $249. The PSP-3000 today sells for $169, and the digital download-only PSP Go sells for $199.
The NGP, which still goes by a codename, has high-end features including 3G and wi-fi support, a five-inch multi-touch OLED display, a multi-touch pad on the back, dual analog sticks, flash card support for software, motion sensors, built-in GPS and a four-core CPU, among other bells and whistles.
Sebastian noted a strong software lineup
for the portable, expected to include Activision's Call of Duty
and first-party titles like LittleBigPlanet
But he said the NGP is "unlikely to hit the mass market." Sebastian stated, "While clearly differentiated from the more casual games that have made the iPhone a phenomenal success as a video game platform, it remains unclear whether there is mass market potential for high-end portable games."
He continued, "We note that Sony's PSP did not meet initial sales expectations despite offering the highest quality graphics on a portable device at that time. Over time, we expect the NGP and PS3 to offer concurrent game-play in the 'cloud.'"
Sebastian also said that the new PlayStation Suite initiative
, which will bring PlayStation content to Android OS devices, is "a significant change in strategy for Sony, opening PlayStation content to multiple platforms and devices, recognizing the rapidly changing video game market."