12GB flashbased PlayStation 3 on sale in North America, despite Sony's prior claims

In September of last year, Sony threw in an interesting nugget when it shipped the third-generation PS3: there'd be a unique, more affordable 12GB flash-based unit exclusively for Europe and Hong Kong. Sure, it doesn't do much good for those who boast huge game libraries or prefer to store odds and ends locally, but Sony clearly determined that there'd be a real market for such a product. Sony Computer Entertainment America VP of marketing, handhelds and home consoles John Koller sat down with us following the launches, and made a point to tell us the following:

"The smaller Flash drive isn't coming to North America, and a lot of that reason is the digital consumer. We really want to make sure, out of the box, that there is an option for them to be able to download that content. That is really critical for us, very very important."

180s happen quite frequently in the technology world, and it seems that we're peering at another here. Canada's own Future Shop has the 12GB PS3 listed right now as "In Stock" for $199.99, and a number of stock trackers are confirming that units are trickling into brick and mortar locations across various provinces. This all jibes nicely with a recent PlayStation Lifestyle rumor that suggests the system is coming to both Canada and the United States on August 18th, leaving us to assume that this particular store simply managed to get a jump on the competition. All that said, you can get a new 500GB PS3 with Grand Theft Auto V for just $70 more (or another, more sizable unit for even less on the secondhand market) -- but hey, options!

Update: We've received an image (shown after the break) of the 12GB PlayStation 3 in a Kmart stockroom here in the United States. The "do not sell until" date is predictably labeled as August 18th, which means that Yanks should be able to get their hands on one of these without an impromptu road trip up north in just a few days.

[Thanks, Jean-Philippe]

12GB flashbased PlayStation 3 on sale in North America, despite Sony's prior claims

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12GB flash-based PlayStation 3 on sale in North America, despite Sony's prior claims