Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Console Post of the Week

Well, this is amusing.

Microsoft announced, quite loudly, that they'd outsold the PS3 2-1 over Black Friday week. From Next Generation:
Microsoft announced Thursday that Xbox 360 sold 310,000 units for the week of November 18 in the US...Microsoft said that it outsold Sony's PlayStation 3 2 to 1 last week, according to retail estimates.

Oh, they told Jim Goldman of CNBC's Tech CheckCNBC, too:
Microsoft tells me the company sold 310,000 Xbox 360 units last week; beating, it says, PlayStation 3 sales by better than two to one.

They told everyone, basically.

Sony responded with this statement from Kimberly Otzman, a Sony spokeswoman, to Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligence:
"It's (Sony Computer Entertainment America) policy not to disclose our unit sales numbers until NPD numbers are officially released which will be December 13th. However, I can assure you that Microsoft's estimates of our PS3 unit sales numbers are way off and they did not outsell PS3 2:1 during Black Friday week."

Well, that makes sense. Don't disclose unit sales numbers in lieu of the official NPD numbers. Kind of like this (November 15) :
U.S. sales of the PlayStation 3 more than doubled in the weeks after the company slashed the video game console's price $100 and launched a low-end model, Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Sony said it sold more than 100,000 consoles of all types in the week ending November 11.

... "It's the breakthrough we've been anticipating," Stringer said. "We've been holding our breath."

...Sales rose to 75,000 in the week of October 29, reflecting both the lower price of the high-end model and the introduction of a 40-gigabyte model for $399 on November 2, the company said. And it was the following week that sales hit 100,000, according to Sony.

Well, I'm glad they don't release sales numbers premat--WTF?

Then there's Jack Tretton. Check out this excerpt from an interview he gave to MSNBC:
Bloggers, reporters and analysts have not been terribly kind to Sony or the PlayStation 3 this year. Were there missteps on Sony’s part, or do you think that the criticisms have been unfair?
I don’t think there’s any question that there were missteps, but I don’t think anybody is being honest with you if they say that the first year of any platform goes perfectly according to plan. I think the biggest miss for us was the launch, in that we had easily a million consumers in North America alone that wanted to get their hands on a PlayStation 3 … and we had roughly 200,000 units to take advantage of that demand. … I think that that was probably the biggest disappointment for the first year.


Jack Tretton is the guy who interviews for a job, and when the manager asks him what he considers his greatest weakness, he'll say "My friends tell me I just work too hard."

I interviewed guys like that. They never got the job.

I'm thinking another answer that Tretton could have given was "The 360 outselling us by over 2-1 in the U.S. since February."

Microsoft, though, has its own problems right now. Not in terms of selling consoles--they're selling boatloads--but in two other areas.

First, the repair times for 360s have become utterly ridiculous. Four weeks for a repair does not appear to be uncommon at this point. Four weeks!

That's incredibly poor, but I believe I know why. I'm guessing that Microsoft is trying to ration out the reserve they took and make it last. They don't want to revise it upwards in their next earnings statement, and to do that, they've established levels for how many employees they can have involved in the warranty repair process.

In other words, they're taking over a billion dollar charge--and unless they want to increase it, this is the best they can do. That should give you an idea of how many 360s have failed.

Their other problem is the announcement this week that silver (free) Xbox Live accounts won't have access to game demos for the first week of their availability. Only Gold (paying) members will have access for that 7-day period.

Wow, what an awful idea.

Look, I know that Microsoft wants to create exclusivity to the degree that it incents people to get a Gold account. The way to do that, though, is to ADD features to Gold, not SUBTRACT features from Silver.

Plus, making game demos exclusive is just stupid. Game demos are advertisements to induce people to buy a game. Restricting access to those advertisements is going to put Microsoft at odds with game publishers, because I'm sure exactly none of them are happy about this.

The next Console Post of the Week will probably be after NPD releases November sales numbers on December 12.

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