if they wanted to blow the PS5 out of water, wouldn't they surely just go for the best chip set available for cpu and gpu and ram etc? Then heavily take a loss on it to keep it at a reasonable cost to consumers.
Based on that they probably weren't thinking of launching next year or at least were not committed and will likely rush now.
I think they intended to launch next year. Part of me thinks that they were originally going to go the two SKU route (Lockheart and high-end Anaconda), but realized that might make things confusing for the average consumer, so ditched that plan. It seems to be the case as there was no mention of two SKUs, just the one Scarlett.
Maybe they had a model that would be $299-$349 that would be weaker and only do 1080p gaming. Then, they had a really beefed up SKU that may have been more powerful than the PS5, but they realized that they would have to launch it at $549-$599. Then they realized if Sony does launch at $399-$449, with specs somewhere in between, though closer to the Anaconda, they would be dead in the water. So, maybe they had to scramble to get out something closer to the PS5 for $499.
Just a theory.