Analysts predict bounce in July NPD figures

PlayStation 3 price drop expected to put Sony's console over Xbox 360 sales for first time in the US.


It's been a trying first year for the PlayStation 3, with Sony's console being routinely bested on the industry-tracking NPD Group's US monthly retail sales charts by the Wii, the Xbox 360, and on particularly rough months, the Game Boy Advance. Things improved a bit with the July announcement of a price drop for the 60GB PS3 (and the subsequent news that the drop was effectively temporary), which quickly doubled sales of the console, according to Sony.

Now a pair of analysts is predicting that when the NPD Group releases its July sales figures next Thursday, they'll show that Sony's console outsold the Xbox 360 for the first time since its release last November. Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter and the SimExchange's Jesse Divnich have released their expectations for July sales, and they've pegged PS3 sales at 160,000 and 165,000, respectively. (Divnich's hardware numbers were derived from the fluctuations of the SimExchange's own user-driven prediction market.)

By comparison, Pachter believes the Xbox 360 tallied 115,000 sales for the month, with Divnich suggesting Microsoft's system netted 142,000 sales. Pachter said sales of the Xbox 360 could have been hurt temporarily by the company's recent warranty extension calling attention to hardware reliability problems.

Regardless of Sony's PS3 push, both think the still-pricey system will again fall short of Nintendo's DS and Wii tag team. Divnich has the DS topping all systems for the month with 491,000 sold, and the Wii following at 369,000 units. Pachter is more reserved, expecting 450,000 DS sales and 330,000 Wii sales. As for the PlayStation Portable, Pachter projected sales of 225,000 for the handheld, compared to Divnich's expectation of 238,000.

Just as Divnich was consistently more bullish on hardware sales, he was also more optimistic about software. Divnich reasoned that July 2007 offerings like Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, All-Pro Football 2K8, and NASCAR 08 would help offset the absence of July 2006's big hit Prey. He expects the NPD figures to show July software sales up between 19 percent and 26 percent, into the $459 million to $487 million range. On the other hand, Pachter projects software sales of $425 million, up "just" 12.5 percent over last year due to tough comparisons.

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