PS3: Sony's First-Person Foot-Shooter

Published on December 29, 2008
by John Paczkowski

“What has become of the Sony known for its technology?” Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister and former Sony employee Akira Amari asked in October 2006. “I hope it will solve its problems soon to quickly recover its brand image reputed for technological prowess.”

If Amari can recall when that was Sony’s image, he has a good memory. Because Sony (SNE) lost its dominant position in consumer electronics to rivals in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. long ago and has yet to regain it.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in the the company’s videogame division, which really should be the shining star in Sony’s core electronics business. Sales of Sony’s Playstation 3 console fell 19 percent year-over-year in November, according to NPD. This while sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 rose eight percent and sales of Nintendo’s Wii doubled. U.S. consumers purchased two million Wii consoles and 836,000 Xbox 360s last month. But they bought just 378,000 PS3s.

Ugly news for Sony and for CEO Howard Stringer, who’s promised the company’s games division will turn a profit this fiscal year after two years of losses. Clearly, Sony’s going to have a tough time managing that. No easy task peddling the $399 PS3 to a public that would much prefer to spend $150 less on the Wii.

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