PS3, PSP sales down as Sony Q1 losses hit $390 million

[UPDATE] Global recession batters electronics giant as quarterly PS3 sales drop from 1.6 million to 1.1 million, PSP sales go from 3.7 million to 1.3 million; software sees dramatic decline on all platforms.

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Today, Sony reported its results for the April-June quarter, the first of its 2009 fiscal year--and the news was not good. For the period, the company reported net losses of ¥32.9 billion ($346 million at today's exchange rates, $343 million at constant exchange rates) on ¥1.599 trillion ($16.8 billion) in revenue. After taxes, net losses increased to ¥37.1 billion ($390.3 million). That's a major decrease from the ¥62.9 billion ($661.9 million) of net income and ¥1.979 trillion ($20.8 billion) in revenue it took during the same period 12 months previously. As bad as it was, though, the loss was less than analysts had predicted.

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Unfortunately, direct year-on-year comparisons for Sony Computer Entertainment earnings are no longer possible. Today, the company announced the games division has been folded into a newly created sector, Networked Products & Services, which also includes VAIO PC sales, navigation system revenues, and income from "other networked businesses." (The move is only structural, and the SCEI name and organization will remain intact.) The new sector saw revenue drop from an equivalent ¥394.4 billion ($4.15 billion) in April-June 2008 to ¥246.8 billion ($2.6 billion) in April-June 2009. It posted a quarterly operating loss of ¥39.5 billion ($415.6 million), way down from the ¥4.6 billion ($48.4 million) in operating profit it reported during the same three months last year.

Sony did release console sales numbers for the period, which also painted a bleak picture. Quarterly worldwide PlayStation 3 sales dropped from 1.6 million units in the first quarter of the past fiscal year to 1.1 million units in the most recent fiscal quarter, while PSP sales plummeted from 3.7 million units to just 1.3 million units. VAIO sales and profitability were also down, though Sony did not offer specific figures.

[UPDATE] Figures released by Sony following the original publication of this article revealed quarterly PS2 sales, which increased from 1.5 million to 1.6 million units thanks to the new $99 price point. The company also announced April-June worldwide game software sales: PS3 games tumbled from 22.8 million to 14.8 million units, PSP game sales slipped from 11.8 million to 8.3 million, and PS2 game sales plummeted from 19.3 million units to just 8.5 million units. Sales of specific first-party games, such as May's critically lauded Infamous, were not provided.

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As for the culprits, Sony blamed an increase in the value of the yen, which reduces profitability from overseas markets, such as the US and Europe. It also blamed the "slowdown in the global economy since September 2008" as a major factor. That slowdown was plainly evident in June, when the NPD Group reported US monthly game sales shrank 31 percent year over year.

Today's news comes less than three months after Sony reported a net loss of ¥98.9 billion ($1.03 billion) for its 2008 fiscal year, its first annual shortfall since 1995. That news, however, had a bit of a silver lining, as Sony Computer Entertainment reported a decreased operating loss of ¥58.5 billion ($612 million), an improvement over the ¥124.5 billion ($1.3 billion) it suffered in the year before. Also, annual sales for both the PSP and the PS3 were up, selling 14.11 million (an increase of 300,000) units and 10.06 million (an increase of 940,000) units, respectively.

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