Wii and PS3 projected to eclipse XBox 360

Peek into one market research firm's video game crystal ball

Published February 15, 2008 6:07PM (EST)

Some pundits are content to remark upon stuff that's already happened, but a rarefied few of us -- market researchers, they're called -- feel more at home in the future. The future is expansive, it contains possibilities, it lets us let our imaginations run free.

Were you to constrain yourself to the present, for instance, you might have to accept the banal fact of Sony's unrelenting failure in the video game business. Since launching the PlayStation 3 a bit more than a year ago, the company has been consistently outsold by Microsoft's XBox 360 and the Nintendo Wii.

But one market research firm sees a different future for the PS3. The firm, iSuppli, says that by 2011, the PS3's "installed base" -- that is, the number of PS3s owned by people around the world -- will hit 38.4 million units. iSuppli predicts that the Wii, by then, will be in second place, with an installed base of 37.7 million, and XBox will be in last place, with an installed base of 32.3 million.

This scenario, understand, is almost a mirror image of today's market. XBox, which hit the street a full year before PS3 and Wii and has had solid sales, has the biggest installed base; Wii is number two, and PS3 is three.

It's easy to see how the Wii's base might beat XBox's -- in 2007 Nintendo sold 6.3 million Wiis, compared to 4.6 million XBox sales for Microsoft, and that lead seems sure to hold. Indeed iSuppli says the Wii's base will beat the XBox's by the end of 2008.

But PS3? Sony sold 3.97 million last year. Unless millions start buying the console for its Blu-Ray disc-playing capabilities -- which seems unlikely -- it's hard to see why the PS3 would so clearly best the XBox.

But the future, as I say, is alive with possibility.

Wii Expected To Take Installed-Base Lead From Xbox [Information Week]

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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