I have been a gamer since the days of the Atari console and over the years the thing that has been a fact of the gaming world is that each successive generation of consoles tends to get more expensive. The gamer might complain about cost but if the console has some compelling features and good games many people will buy the console even if it's expensive. Generally we see the major console developers simply choose the hardware and then price their machines accordingly.
Techon has had an interview with Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida about the coming Sony portable console dubbed NGP. In the interview Yoshida confirmed that Sony worked backwards from what most of us would expect on the development of a console rather than just making the NGP awesome with some of the coolest hardware around and then coming to a price people would spend, the price came first. Sony settled on a price of about $310 USD as the first step and then went and chose hardware that would fit inside that price.
Sony apparently worked up several prototypes and evaluated them to see what performed best. Interestingly the rear touchpad was a more expensive component and including it was a low priority at first. Yoshida says after he used the prototype with the touchpad on the rear he decided it was unique and included it. Another cool tidbit to come for the interview is that Sony is working with carriers to offer a pay-as-you-go option for the 3G service on the NGP. There have already been rumors that Sony is cutting back on hardware to make the NGP more affordable.