Friday, November 17, 2006

PS3 Launch

Okay, the launch is over and only one person got shot. What a mess.

It really shouldn't be hard to manage a line--people show up, they sign in, provide a form of I.D. (with picture), and get a numbered armband. You'd think it was freaking rocket science the way so many stores completely botched the entire process.

However, even in a sea of idiocy, I have a special commendation for the West Bend Wal-Mart (Milwaukee area). The manager, who must have an I.Q. under 10, had fifty people line up and had them run to ten available "winner's" chairs to reserve a PS3. You can see it here and one guy (Craig Weston) wound up getting pushed into a freaking flagpole at full speed.

The good news for Mr. Weston, who wound up in the hospital, is that he'll be able to afford a PS3, a recliner, and a very nice high-definition television after he wins his lawsuit. Actually, he'll be able to afford more than that--this particular brand of manager stupid is probably worth 50k.

So now that the system's launched, what do we watch for now? Well, sales data, for one, to find out how many units Sony had on hand for the launch. Second, and I think this is going to be very revealing, I think we need to watch how auction prices either spike or collapse. DQ reader Dan Holmes sent me a link to an interesting article about PS3 auction prices in Japan, and here's an excerpt:
The gaming consoles, which went on sale here Saturday, are fetching reasonable prices online, disappointing those who had hoped to make a quick profit by reselling the machines on the Internet.

Some of the 4,000 PlayStation 3 consoles listed on Yahoo Japan's auction site were downright bargains. Even systems with games included were going for about 60,000 yen ($510) for the most expensive model and 50,000 yen ($420) for the cheaper one.

I didn't expect that, at least not so quickly.

Here's a thought about U.S. auctions. If I wanted to resell a PS3, I'd form the largest group I could to manipulate the auction prices, because I would want the general public to perceive that demand was incredibly high. So I'd swap bids with other sellers so that auctions would finish at prices like $1,200 or higher, no money would change hands, and after that price was established, I'd open up a legitimate auction and really sell the unit.

I'd be shocked if there aren't groups already trying to do this, so it will be very interesting to watch the auction prices, which are the only real market for PS3's right now.

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