Ah, it's funny how rumors get started--and this one is truly back-channel if there ever was a back-channel rumor.
Kotaku is reporting that a developer at Acclaim, David Perry, wrote this message on his Facebook and Twitter accounts:
"I hear Sony FINALLY has the PSP 2. And thank goodness, they've removed the stupid battery-sucking UMD disc drive. I'm excited!"
Now that message is rapidly making its way through the blogosphere. Of course, it's unclear what it means exactly. As Kotaku says, no one knows if Perry has seen the new PlayStation Portable or is "just hearing rumors through the development community."
At the same time, it wouldn't be surprising if Sony were to shift away from a cumbersome optical disc system and move completely to flash memory storage (Memory Stick Pro Duo) and digital downloads via the PlayStation Network Store. Kotaku does bring up a good point in wondering how such a device would be backward-compatible (perhaps if you have the UMD, you'd be allowed to download a digital version of the same game?).
While there's been a lot of chatter lately about a totally new PSP system, it's still up in the air whether the next version will be a complete redesign (a true PSP2) or just another another incremental upgrade to something that would be called the PSP-4000 (we're on PSP-3000 right now).
As always, feel free to comment.
Update: Kotaku has some new quotes from Perry, who claims the PSP2 is indeed real and could hit this fall. I'm sure Sony isn't all that happy to have a developer leaking unverified information--but we don't mind.