Pioneer: 4-7 million PS3s to ship in 2006

Senior vice president of Blu-ray drive manufacturer expects huge numbers of PlayStation 3s to drive disc format's success.

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Following Sony's unsurprising PlayStation 3 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show, some pundits prophesized that the console would undergo supply shortages similar to those Xbox 360 suffered last year. Just yesterday, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities gave a sunnier estimate, predicting 1 million PS3s would be available for a November launch. By contrast, Microsoft only moved around 326,000 the week after the Xbox 360 went on sale November 22.

However, Wilson's optimism looks like the Grim Reaper in comparison to Pioneer executive vice president Andy Parson's belief. Speaking with Web site The Digital Bits, Parsons talked about the Blu-ray disc format (Pioneer announced several Blu-ray-compatible players at CES) and how the Blu-ray-compatible PlayStation 3 would shape the success of the format.

"The PS3 is launching right at the forefront of Blu-ray disc," Parsons said. "If Sony ships the kind of numbers we expect them to this year, that will provide a very rapid growth of players out there hungry for titles. We've been hearing between 4 and 7 million [PS3s] could ship."

When its Xbox 360 console launched late last year, Microsoft experienced rampant shortages in the US and Europe. However, it was largely due to supply constraints on some of the system's internal parts. The company originally targeted 3 million units to be out the door in the console's first 90 days on the market, but adjusted its figures to 4.5 million to 5.5 million consoles shipped by June 2006.

Despite Sony's previous announcement of a spring 2006 launch for the PS3, a consensus of industry analysts believes that the PS3 won't ship until later this year in North America, with a possible midyear launch in Japan.

If Sony shipped between 4 million and 7 million units in less than six months (with the likely scenario of several months in Japan only), the company would outpace Microsoft's lofty goals. To do that, Sony would need a near-perfect production process unmarred by supply shortages and hardware issues.

But unless the console has a $699 price tag, there won't be any problem with demand. When Sony launched its PlayStation 2 in 2000 in Japan, it sold 980,000 units in its first weekend. In its first day in US retail, Sony moved 510,000 PS2s. To date, the PS2 has sold more than 100 million units.

Sony had not responded to inquiries from GameSpot as of press time.

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