Price cut boosts PlayStation 3 sales

New low-end model huge hit for Sony

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 Nov. 11.

The price cut and new model make the PS3 more competitive against Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 as the holiday season opens, Stringer said.

“It’s the breakthrough we’ve been anticipating,” Stringer said. “We’ve been holding our breath.”

Sony said it had been selling between 30,000 and 40,000 consoles per week before the Oct. 18 price cut from $599 to $499 of the 80 GB model.

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

Lagging sales of the PlayStation 3, compared to sales of the Wii and XBox 360, prompted Sony to cut the price in the U.S. as it had in Japan and Europe.

“Obviously, we’ve taken so much heat over the year on PS3,” Stringer said from his office in Tokyo. “Finally, the turning point has been passed.”

Stringer said Sony is poised to benefit from the difficulty Nintendo has had producing Wii consoles fast enough to keep up with demand.

“It’s a little fortuitous that the Wii is running out of hardware,” Stringer said.

By October, Nintendo had shipped 9.3 million units worldwide of the Wii, which went on sale late last year. By the end of this fiscal year in March 2008, total global Wii shipments are expected to reach 22.3 million.

Sony had sold 5 million PS3s worldwide by October. The game console went on sale late last year in Japan and the U.S. and in March in Europe.

Microsoft had sold 11.6 million Xbox 360 machines in two years.

Sony executives said the rising sales also will boost the Blu-ray high definition DVD format. A Blu-ray drive comes with the PS3.

“It puts us vastly ahead of where the other format is going to be in terms of an installed base in people’s homes by the end of this holiday season,” Andrew House, Sony’s chief marketing officer, said.

Toshiba Corp. has been selling players for its rival DVD format for high-definition as low as $200 and prices are expected to drop further.

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