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Friday, February 15, 2008

Market research: PlayStation 3 is going the top-selling next-gen console by 2011

For more than a year, the whole world has seen Sony's PlayStation 3 get its rear handed to it by Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

But if a three-year forecast from market research firm iSuppli is to be believed, the PS3 could out pace both the Wii and the Xbox by 2011.

Since its release in November 2006, the Wii has been the most successful of the next-gen consoles, far eclipsing Microsoft's Xbox 360 and leaving the PS3 in the dust.

But because the Xbox had a full year's head start on both the Wii or the PS3, it still had the overall sales lead.

Now, however, that lead looks imperiled, and according to a report in Information Week, the Wii could soon become the overall sales leader among the three consoles.

The article cited market research firm iSuppli as determining that by the end of 2008, the Wii will have sold a total of 30.2 million units, 17.5 percent higher than the projected 25.7 million Xboxes Microsoft will have sold.

But the really interesting news in the iSuppli report is a forecast that by 2011, the PS3 could be the top console. The research firm predicted that by the end of 2011, the PS3 could have sold 38.4 million units, while the Wii might be in second place at 37.7 million.

Of course, three-year forecasts have about as much chance of being right in electronics as predictions of who will win the World Series in three years.

Still, for anyone to put their name to a forecast that the PS3 could emerge from its doldrums is actually quite noteworthy. And for me, it's a hint of future validation since in the fall of 2006, I wrote a story suggesting that the PS3 would be the eventual winner of the next-gen console wars.

Shortly thereafter, of course, that suggestion made me look rather foolish when Sony's much-publicized problems with production and overpricing got the PS3 off to an extremely poor start. And with the surprise success of the Wii, my prediction looked even more foolish, even though Sony said from day one that it views its consoles as 10-year plays.

And of course, iSuppli's forecast could be just as far off base as mine was. But the fact that it is willing to make such a prognostication here, in 2008, is gratifying. Even if it's a bit mystifying.

From news:
Sales of PlayStation 3 top Xbox 360 in January
Sony's PlayStation 3 video-game console topped Microsoft's Xbox 360 in U.S. unit sales for the first time in January, but the Redmond company said its sales were hurt by supply shortages.

The PlayStation 3 sold 269,000 units for the month, according to statistics released by the NPD Group market research firm. That was just behind Nintendo's Wii, which sold 274,000 units, NPD said. Microsoft sold 230,000 Xbox 360 consoles.

"We certainly believe that this is an anomaly," said Microsoft spokesman David Dennis of the Xbox 360's third-place finish.

The company said this week that higher-than-expected demand for Xbox 360 during the holidays caused subsequent shortages.

Sony, in a statement, pointed to progress in areas including movie studios' embrace of the Blu-ray next-generation DVD format, which the PS3 uses. Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief executive, said that it's "shaping up to be a breakthrough year for us."

Sony's PlayStation 2 dominated the previous console generation, but the PS3 has struggled to find its footing.

Nintendo's popular and lower-priced Wii has experienced repeated shortages since its launch in November 2006. Redmond-based Nintendo of America said in a statement Thursday that demand for the Wii continues to outstrip supply. The company said sales last month were affected by its previous decision to shift some of January's hardware supplies into December, to boost availability over the holidays.

Microsoft's Dennis noted the company is "working to do everything we can to replenish the inventory."

The company noted that overall U.S. spending on Xbox 360 hardware, software and accessories was $297 million for the month, compared with $244 million on Wii and $219 million on the PS3.

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