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Microsoft and Sony are gonna duke it out this holiday with their new consoles, and the price of each device could have a big impact on which one does better. For now, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter is telling investors what he thinks each box will retail for.

The analyst released a note to investors that previews the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show. Pachter and fellow analyst Nick McKay wrote that they believe that Microsoft will price the Xbox One $50 higher than the PlayStation 4 due to slightly more expensive components.

“For [Xbox One], we believe a starting price of $399 makes sense given that the Xbox 360 Pro debuted at that price point in November 2005,” wrote the analysts. “Our estimate of the bill of materials for the Xbox One — based upon speculation regarding many of the specs — is around $325, suggesting that Microsoft could make a modest profit at the $399 price point. For the PS4, we remain confident that the new console will have a lower initial MSRP than the PS3, which had a lofty starting price of $599 that we believe negatively impacted its long-term popularity. We expect the PS4 to debut at $349, as our estimate of the bill of materials is $275.”


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These are speculative numbers. It’s important to remember that industry analysts must make these kinds of predictions to aid investors.

We have a standing request in with both Microsoft and Sony for them to provide any information regarding the retail price of their new systems. The two companies likely won’t reveal that information until next week’s E3 show — or ever later.

The analysts say they believe Microsoft might still attempt a subscription-based model to offset the slightly higher cost of the box.

“We believe the ability to watch live TV from a cable, [telecom company], or satellite set-top box through Xbox One could entice [Microsoft] to drive subscriptions through a subsidized box in exchange for a multiyear contract,” reads the analysts’ note. “The ‘always connected’ requirement for the Xbox One likely means that a broadband connection will be required, suggesting to us that ISPs may have an incentive to offer a subsidy as well. In addition, Microsoft could conceivably subsidize the Xbox One through prepaid Xbox Live Gold subscriptions — as it has done on a limited basis in the past –or premium Skype functionality as well.”

The Wedbush analysts think Sony could do something similar, but it is less likely since Sony doesn’t have a history of doing something like that. If the company did try a subsidized console, it could do so through its PlayStation Network and PlayStation Plus offerings.

Finally, the analysts speculate that Sony could emulate the multimedia TV functionality that Microsoft displayed at its Xbox One event in May. They expect that Sony could easily add those features with a PlayStation 4 firmware update. Xbox One can overlay info and functionality on top of a cable box thanks to an HDMI-in port — Sony has not confirmed that the PlayStation 4 will have HDMI-in. If it doesn’t, it would have to find some other — potentially wireless — solution to mimic the Xbox One TV features.

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