Sony plans to introduce a third revision of its PlayStation 3 games console, originally released in 2006. The new version will land on US store shelves this September 25 ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

The company is keeping the same curved design of the previous two versions, though the footprint is now half the size of the original PlayStation 3. The newest model is also about 25% lighter and less bulky than the “slim” model introduced in 2009. There's still a Blu-ray drive for playing high-definition movies and games, of course, though Sony is now using a sliding disc cover in order to save space.

Two versions in either charcoal black or classic white will be offered in the US. The first ships with a 250GB hard drive and the second provides 500GB of storage. They will be priced at $269 and $299, respectively, but those wanting the larger storage version will have to wait until October 30.

Europe will get a separate version with 12GB of flash-based storage priced at €229, which will land on October 12, as well as the 500GB PlayStation 3 available from September 28 bundled with FIFA 2013 and priced at €299. It's unclear if the cheaper, 12GB model will eventually make it to the US as well.

“A smaller form factor is not only more attractive to many consumers, it will cost less to manufacture, ship and stock,” Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Screen Digest said. “That is likely to open the door to better margins and will allow Sony a chance to be more aggressive on pricing running into 2013.”

A 250GB USB external hard drive will be available separately to increase the media storage of the entry-level PlayStation 3. Other bundles are expected in the lead up to Christmas, featuring titles such as Assassin’s Creed 3, and Sony’s Wonderbook augmented reality reading peripheral.

Competition will be fierce however, especially with Nintendo’s brand new Wii U arriving on November 18 and sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 games console remaining very strong.

In a separate announcement, Sony confirmed that its PlayStation Mobile Store will launch on October 3, offering consumers PlayStation certified games on compatible Android handsets and tablets. Initially 30 games will be offered, with more expected to follow in the near future.