I started to post; stopped myself. Then decided to do it anyway. The entire internet is swarming with rumors about the demise of the 80GB PS3 and the interdiction of a new super, duper 120GB (or larger) PS3. Why should this matter? Why should I care?
Actually I only care because I want to see Blu-ray succeed, and I do not want any SKU confusion to … well … confuse developers. Which features and extras are in and which are out?
Additionally, for selfish reasons, I want to see Sony continue with hardware backwards compatibility. Once it is eradicated from current SKUs, it will be long gone and forgotten. There are still many PSX and PS2 games still in circulation. I want to be able to play these and I do not want to have to connect multiple systems to my TV. Besides, the PS3 (and PS2 before it) have nice options to smooth out graphics and increase disk access times. Keep it in Sony, even as a “premium” SKU to go with a “standard” SKU. The more PlayStation options, the better.
How do I see things playing out? In order to keep costs under control, and thus sell more PS3 systems, Sony will continue pulling features (and of course pushing Blu-ray) with each new SKU. Sony will probably keep a higher end SKU, with a bundled game and high capacity HDD, but backwards compatibility will continue to move towards software emulation.
At some point, the PS2 will be officially retired. By then, Sony will have costs under control, and realize that they can introduce a “new improved” premium SKU that includes all of the PS3 60GB day one features (4 USB ports, Wi-Fi, flash card readers, and of course hardware PS2 compatibility with the Emotion Engine). Now that would be progress.