After many high-profile delays, the PlayStation 3 finally launched in North America on November 17, 2006. Two often-turbulent years later, the console celebrated its second birthday to steadily rising sales and a widening software portfolio, despite being outpaced by the Xbox 360 at US retailers in October.
But while the 360's drastic price drop and holiday bundles made it a distant second to the still-white-hot Wii, the PS3 has apparently matched it in one respect. In part of the PS3's birthday celebration message on the official PlayStation Blog, Sony Computer Entertainment America hardware marketing director John Koller announced that the PlayStation Network now has as many users as Xbox Live.
"[The] PlayStation Network has truly hit its stride with unique downloadable games and a video delivery service featuring movies, TV shows, and original programming that you can watch in HD with your PS3," Koller boasted. "And with 14 million active accounts and 273 million pieces of content downloaded, we know that you're thirsting for this digital entertainment." At the Tokyo Game Show last month, Microsoft announced Xbox Live currently had 14 million subscribers.
The executive also mentioned the 17-million-unit worldwide sales milestone the PS3 hit last month, roughly 5 million units behind the 360's lifetime-to-date sales. He made brief mention of the long-in-development PlayStation Home service, and referenced its upcoming open beta would occur in the next 12 months. However, he did not say when the avatar-based virtual world, still ostensibly slated to launch by year's end, would go online.
[UPDATE] Since the publication of this article, Sony has clarified that it considers both PS3 and PSP accounts as part of its PSN user base. "Seeing as PlayStation Portable does include PlayStation Network services (i.e. games store natively on PSP), yes those numbers do include all PlayStation Network registrations," said a rep. The rep also said, to guard against duplication, Sony does not count a registration made on the PSP and then used on the PS3 twice.