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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sony Defeats Truman

This just in from video-game reporting headquarters: Sony may be a consumer electronics giant, but its public relations folks aren’t so powerful when it comes to prognostication.Yesterday, said spinsters made a bold prediction about sales figures for video game consoles that were due out today. Sony said it was confident the figures would show that in July its PlayStation 3 outsold the Xbox 360, made by its chief rival, Microsoft.The actual figures from NPD Group, a market research firm, did not bear this out. Sony came in third, behind the still piping-hot Nintendo Wii and Sony’s aforementioned chief thorn-in-side, Microsoft.For the record, NPD reported domestic sales of 425,000 Nintendo Wiis, 170,000 Xbox 360s and 159,000 PlayStation 3s in July. Dave Karraker, the Sony spokesman who predicted the PS3 would overtake the 360, told me that: (1) He was only wrong by a bit, and (2) NPD doesn’t provide an exact count but estimates some portions of the market and (3) No, he would not care to make a prediction about August’s sales figures.The results, in fairness to Sony, do represent a marked improvement relative to Microsoft. In June, PS3 sales were roughly half of Xbox 360’s 200,000.Could it be that Sony’s price cut has shaken loose consumer demand?While Microsoft and Sony battled it out for second place in the next-generation console competition, Nintendo continues to ride its less powerful processor, simpler graphics and gyration-inspiring game controller to fad-defying results. Nintendo’s July sales bested its June figures by around 50,000 units, further stumping analysts and video game software companies who keep waiting for the Wii to peter out.At this point, predicting a quick demise for the Wii might not be the wisest maneuver; it’s something even the folks at Sony wouldn’t attempt — at least not this month.P.S. The overall game market is on the mend, in a big way. Through July, domestic sales of hardware, software and accessories were $7 billion, up from $5 billion for the first seven months of 2006

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