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January 16, 2007

Sony’s PS3 stumbles out of the gate

Posted by David Hunter at 10:12 PM ET.

Tony Smith at The Register reports that Sony PS3 sales pass 2m mark… two weeks late:

Sony has shipped 1m PlayStation 3 consoles in Japan, the consumer electronics giant said yesterday, the day it hit that mark. However, the announcement was a tacit admission it has failed to hit the 2m-machine target it last year said to would reach by the end of 2006.

Last week, Sony said it had shipped 1m PS3s in the US by the end of December. However, it only passed the 2m global shipments mark yesterday. It forecast 2m PS3 shipments by the end of 2006 in September, when it also delayed the console’s European introduction.

Still, Sony can boast that the PS3 has reached the 2m in less time than it took the PS2, reaching that point in a day under two months.

The 2 million forecast was mentioned previously here and was also coupled with a stated intention to ship 6 million PS3s by the end of Sony’s current fiscal year in March. Nomura Securities doesn’t think they’ll make that target either and says a more realistic number is 4.5 million with cuts in their prior estimates for following years as well. Also the latest rumor is that the PS3 won’t get to Europe until late March.

An easy explanation for the shortfall is the lack of product due to the well known production problems with the Blu-ray high definition DVD drive, but there are some other disturbing portents as well:

More than half of a group of surveyed stores had Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 in stock, while Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s new Wii was sold out, an analyst said on Tuesday in a report signaling demand for the market leader’s new console may be soft.

“Our channel checks yesterday of 52 retail stores, from boutiques to big-box retailers, showed that 28 of the 52 stores had PS3 consoles in stock, while none had Wii consoles in stock,” American Technology Research analyst Paul-Jon McNealy said in the research note.

He added that those stores with PS3s in stock typically had units numbering in the low single digits, with only one major retailer having 60-plus machines in stock.

McNealy said availability in stores of PS3s, which are more expensive than Wiis, does not necessarily indicate slack demand and that he would continue to monitor PS3 inventories closely.

New video game consoles tend to be in very short supply for months after their release as demand for the latest new machines outweigh manufacturers’ ability to turn them out.

Yes, it’s somewhat anecdotal, but it’s not the kind of news that Sony would like to hear. Well, at least they’re still selling PS2s.

Filed under Blu-ray, Coopetition, Hardware, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Xbox

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