PS3 sales fall short of Sony's high hopes

Despite its predictions of an end to the slump, Sony's Playstation 3 game console is still in third place, trailing XBox and Wii.

Published August 24, 2007 11:00AM (EDT)

For much of the summer, Sony has been telling us to just wait and see. Sure, its Playstation 3 was in the dumps, saleswise, but considering a $100 price cut and upcoming releases of much-anticipated games, the console would bounce back against its rivals. Sony said last month that the price cut had prompted a 135 percent increase in sales of the still-pricey console, and yesterday a spokesman told the New York Times that the company was confident that sales numbers due out Thursday would show the PS3 had jumped to second place, behind Nintendo's Wii but ahead of Microsoft's XBox 360.

Well, Thursday came, and at least Sony was right about the Wii. It's still No. 1: Sales numbers from the NPD Group, the market research firm whose numbers are taken as an industry standard, show that Nintendo sold 425,000 Wiis in July. But Sony was wrong about the PS3. Once again, it came in third, with 159,000 units sold. Microsoft moved 11,000 more XBox 360s -- 170,000.

Sony's numbers are an improvement; it sold just 98,000 PS3s in June. June numbers for XBox, on the other hand, were nearly 200,000, meaning that Microsoft is moving in the wrong direction. So maybe next month Sony will really be in second place. Wisely, though, the company is not making any more predictions.

The real story here is not the PS3 so much as it is the Wii. Nintendo just keeps cooking along; July's Wii sales spiked by nearly 50,000 units over June's. The company's DS hand-held console is doing especially well too, with more than 400,000 flying off shelves in the month.

Going out on a limb, I'm going to predict that next month, Nintendo will retain its title.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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