PS3 helps put Sony back in black

Electronics maker posts $295.2 million profit thanks in part to rising demand for console; game division revenue up 32 percent, but exchange rates keep game unit from profitability; 38.1 million units worldwide to date.

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After a year that saw a steady drumbeat of quarterly losses, Sony is back in the black. Today, the electronics giant reported profits of 25.7 billion yen ($295.2 million) for the April-June quarter, up from a 37.1 billion yen ($426.7 million) loss the year prior. Overall earnings were 1.66 trillion yen ($190.9 billion), up from 1.56 trillion yen ($179.4 billion) the year prior.

Once a money loser for Sony, the PS3 is now helping it shore up its bottom line.
Once a money loser for Sony, the PS3 is now helping it shore up its bottom line.

For the quarter, Sony's Networked Product and Services division, which includes Sony Computer Entertainment, saw sales increase 32.4 percent year-over-year to 325.9 billion yen ($3.66 billion U.S. dollars). The division still posted a loss of 3.8 billion yen ($43 million), an improvement of 32.9 billion yen ($378.5 million) year-over-year, which Sony blamed largely on poor exchange rates due to a strong yen.

According to the company, the division's improved performance was due to decreased production costs and increased demand for the PlayStation 3, which has seen sales jump since the introduction of the $300 slimline model last fall. Increased sales of VAIO PCs was also a factor in the sector's turnaround.

During the quarter, 2.4 million PS3s worldwide were sold, an increase of 200,000 units from the year prior. Some 1.2 million PSPs were scooped up by global consumers, as were 1.6 million PlayStation 2s. Sony reported 24.8 million PS3 games were sold, along with 9.2 million PSP games and 1.6 million PS2 games.

Sony managed to hit its goal of selling 13 million PlayStation 3s during the financial year ending March 31, and is now predicting it will sell 15 million of the consoles in its current fiscal year. To date, the console has sold 38.1 million units worldwide.

That said, Sony is predicting sales of its other two hardware platforms will fall. The PSP, which sold 9.9 million units in FY2009 for a life-to-date total of 62 million units, is expected to only sell 8 million units in the 12 months ending March 31, 2011. Sony predicts the aging PS2 will only sell 6 million units in the coming fiscal year, a drop of 1.3 million units.

No mention was made of sales forecasts for the PlayStation Move, the motion-sensing system Sony will launch in North America on September 19, Europe on September 15, and Japan on October 21. In the US, the company will offer a $100 bundle with the PlayStation Eye, one wand controller, and the Sports Champions compilation, as well as a $400 bundle that includes a PS3. The controller is $50 by itself, and the navigation controller is $30. PlayStation Move-branded games will cost $40 each.

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