According to a report in a Nikkei, Sony will be selling PlayStation 3 consoles that lack the PlayStation 2 Emotion Engine chip in the US by the end of the year.
This is an interesting move. Sony is already going to start shipping PS3s that aren't equipped with the Emotion Engine chip that offers hardware support for PS2 games. These will hit the stores in PAL territories on 23 March. Instead of making use of the Emotion Engine, these units will use software to emulate the missing chip. Eliminating the EE chip means that Sony can cut costs and possibly offer the PS3 to consumers at a lower price.
Depending on how you look at this, it can mean good news of bad news. If you want to buy a PS3 to play new games and aren't interested in backward-compatibility (either you have a PS2 or aren't planning on playing any old games) then this means that you might be able to pick up a PS3 for a little less than they retail for now. If backward-compatibility is something that's important to you then relying on software emulation could mean problems with some games.
My guess here is that rather than looking for a way to drop the retail price of the PS3, Sony is more interested in cutting production costs. I'd be surprised if any of the savings are passed on. On top of that, it's becoming clear that the PAL territories are being used to beta test the software emulation code.