Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is PlayStation 3 in trouble?

Throughout the internet, reports are that Sony's going to have some trouble with its new PlayStation 3 unit.

Just what the videogame world needs to hear, right?

Merrill Lynch reported this week that the PS3 may not launch in Japan until the fall and late 2006 or early 2007 here in the U.S., and then in limited supply. The holdup appears to be money.

For Sony to put in an HD-DVD player and the powerful new processor, the costs reportedly would rise to nearly $900 per unit and the machine is expected to go for $500. That's too much money to lose per unit. Spectulation is rampant that the PS3 we see this year (or next) may not be the PS3 we were expecting.

Thursday, Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi announced that a half million PS3s would be available at launch in the US and Japan, but no Euro sales would occur until 2007. Japan will get 100,000 units and the US the remaining 400,000.

Sony reps still say they hope to get as many as 1.4 million units into the U.S. by year's end. That would still be more than double the amount Microsoft sold when it debuted Xbox 360 late last year, with problems -- mainly because there were not enough 360s available for sale.

Meanwhile, one website, GameKlip, has uploaded a funny anime depicting a mock trial over whether Sony has lied to customers.

Should be interesting. I just hope the system is as good as promised.


clayj said...

Sony is in big trouble with the PS3. (Fair disclosure: I am a happy Xbox 360 owner and a former employee of Microsoft.)

First, they made the mistake of building Blu-Ray in as standard equipment. This is a problem for a couple of reasons... first, Blu-Ray has been difficult to get working correctly, which has resulted in numerous delays bringing the PS3 to market. Second, and worse, putting Blu-Ray in boosts the price of the PS3 by at least $200, if not more. Microsoft, on the other hand, stuck with standard DVD (which is a universal standard) and therefore avoided any delays getting the Xbox 360 to market; plus, the price of the Xbox 360 stays lower than it would have if Microsoft had gone with HD-DVD, and customers have the option of getting the HD-DVD add-on if they want to.

Second, Sony has really, really overdone the hype this time. I've always been a fan of Sony, but their initial promises (1080p support in all games, dual HDMI support, new boomerang controller, etc.) have all evaporated in the past few months.

Third, the shortages of blue LEDs (necessary for Blu-Ray), themselves a Sony product, mean that Sony cannot produce nearly enough consoles to meet demand.

And finally, Sony's inability to get the PS3 ready for market has allowed Microsoft and (soon) Nintendo to establish a firm beachhead in the next-gen console market... Sony ain't even a player right now.

This Christmas, parents who are looking for consoles for their kids and for themselves won't even have the choice of Sony... they'll all end up getting Xbox 360s or Wiis.

Sony has dropped the ball, and they've dropped it hard. I'm not sure they will be able to keep their lead in the Console Wars any longer; it's now Microsoft's war to lose.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Clayj.

I'm not convinced folks want or need Blu-Ray. It seems like an unnecessary way to incorporate other Sony products and establish Blu-Ray as the standard to give them a competitive edge. The problem is that it makes the PS3 expensive and complicated. I believe the market wants a dedicated gaming console that has fun, affordable games. It's a case of doing way too much (see MP3 phones for another market failure like this).

I'll be getting a Wii this Christmas.

clayj said...

BTW, Langston, you shouldn't use the term "HD-DVD" to describe what's being put into the PS3. Like Jell-o and Kleenex, HD-DVD refers to a specific item/technology. The PS3 is getting a Blu-ray drive, which is a hi-def disc format... but it's not HD-DVD, which is something completely different.