Console Post of the Week: SonySony is fighting a war on two fronts. They are failing spectacularly on one front, but they're doing quite well on the second.
First, the gaming front. January NPD numbers aren't out yet, but the news is stunningly bad from Japan, where the Wii is outselling the PS3 4-1 on a weekly basis. Thirteen weeks after the PS2's launch, the installed base was 1,915,000 units.
The PS3? 642,000. That's 1/3.
In only ten weeks, the Wii has an installed base over 1,500,000. It's roughly selling at the same rate the PS2 sold.
More bad news. According to this post at Kotaku, used PS3's 20GB's at one Japanese retailer are selling for LESS than used 360's, even though the retail price is 28% more.
Remember, the price of the PS3 20GB was already cut in Japan before launch. It's cheaper, comparatively, than it is in the U.S.
Do I expect the news to be any better for Sony in the U.S. when the January NPD data is released? No. On the gaming front, Sony is flaming out in unforgettable fashion.
However, and this is a big however: they seem to be just fine in the high-definition DVD format war.
It's a matter of numbers. In the console war, they're competing against some very large numbers: nearly nine million Xbox 360's and over four million Wii's. If Sony sells 20,000 PS3's a week in Japan and 40,000 a week in the U.S., it's a disaster. In the format war, though, they're competing against some very small numbers--the installed HD-DVD base is still under a million players, and if Sony sells even 60,000 units worldwide each week, it's going to dwarf the sale of HD-DVD players. Yes, some of those PS3's won't be used for movies, but some will, and it's still an advantage.
It's very difficult to tease out any useful information from HD-DVD or Blu-Ray software sales right now, no matter what anyone tells you. Have you noticed that any sales data is always expressed as a percentage of the other format? You never get data on how many movies were actually sold, only how many sold as a percentage against the other format.
There's a very good reason that no one wants to publish actual sales data: it would be embarrassing. Sales would be so low compared to regular DVD sales that people would begin focusing on how poorly high-definition DVD formats are selling right now.
Why should we be surprised, though? The film industry spend 90% of their time working on the copy protection format. The quality of the actual transfers seems to be almost peripheral to their thinking. So if they don't care, why should we?
Regardless, you can make the argument that in spite of the lower costs of HD-DVD, even the low demand for the PS3 is going to, by default, dwarf the sale of HD-DVD players. And in another two years, that might translate into a victory in the format war.
It might be possible that Sony is so desperate for Blu-Ray to win that they're willing to sacrifice the lead in gaming during this generation. That's what's happening, anyway.
But I think it's important to remember that they're not losing both wars.