By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has opted to stay with its existing product line-up, stating flatly that it will not be releasing a second PlayStation Portable handheld gaming device, despite persistent internet rumours stating the opposite.

SCE has squashed the hopes of many handheld device fans by stating categorically that “that there is no PSP2.”

The PlayStation Portable 2 (PSP2) was rumoured to have Bluetooth, dual analogue thumbstick controls, 8GB flash drive and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as an integrated camera designed to allow users to stream live video to the PlayStation3 via Wi-Fi.

However, Sony is sticking to its guns, and similar to the success of the PlayStation 2 (PS2), expects much life yet from its first foray into handheld gaming.

In fact, it looks as though any hopes of the PSP2 appearing any time soon are misplaced, with SCE Australia and New Zealand managing director, Michael Ephraim, telling he holds high hopes for the PSP and PS2 well into and beyond 2007.

“Not only are we excited about the new PlayStation 3 (PS3) console and what it will do for the marketplace, we’re still just as excited about the potential still for PSP and PS2,” he said.

Ephraim believes the PSP has not reached its full potential and that it may yet eclipse the Nintendo DS Lite, its staunch handheld opponent which sold more units than any other console in 2006.

“There is still a lot of life left in the PSP and we still have high hopes for it. We’re confident that PS3, PS2 and PSP will be the leading formats at Christmas 2007.”

Ephraim also believes that despite the release of Sony’s next generation gaming console, the PS3, that its previous generation PS2 console can still hold its own in the marketplace.

“For 2007 we intend to keep driving PS2 into non-traditional gaming homes. PS2 has been a runaway success in a year where two new consoles where launched (Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii).

“If you look at the Australian [Christmas] numbers, it was the Nintendo DS Lite first, Sony PS2 second and Sony PSP third, so we are very comfortable with how we are going into 2007,” Ephraim said.

Figures for the Christmas sales period of 2006 showed that Nintendo’s handheld DS Lite device sold 151,922 units, Sony’s PS2 and PSP ranked second and third with 122,639 and 55,850 sales respectively, Nintendo’s Wii sold 51,744 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 sold 45,036 units, putting Sony in a comfortable position with its current technology consoles.

The PlayStation 2 console also dominated US sales, with the PS2 selling 1.6 million units in 2006 compared to 1.4 million Wii consoles and 1.1 million Xbox 360 consoles.

“We’ve got the PS3 which is launching worldwide, the PS2 which is very healthy and we’ve got the PSP in the handheld market, so SCE Australia is going to be very busy in 2007,” said Ephraim.