Sony AU boss: we will own the holidays

Top Sony exec in Australia says PS3 delay won't hurt the console; says preorder cancellations are nearly nil, releases solid figures on peripheral sales, claims PS2 will slay competition near-term.


SYDNEY--The PlayStation 3 launch delay from November 2006 to March next year in Australia and other PAL territories will not hurt the console's success in the long run, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia and New Zealand managing director Michael Ephraim (pictured, at right) says.

Speaking with GameSpot Australia, Ephraim said that while missing the peak Christmas trading period was "not ideal," it would have no long-term affect on Sony's quest to remain number one in the console race. The delay hasn't even hurt preorders in Australia, Ephraim said.

"It [the PS3 launch delay] hasn't helped. But what we know from retailers is that almost no PS3 preorders have been cancelled," he said. "It is not ideal--I'm not kidding myself. But, it's the battle, it's not the war."

Ephraim said, "The war for a generation of a console takes place over five or six years. And we think this delay over Christmas is unfortunate and not ideal, but in the long run we don't think it will play a significant role at all."

Ephraim also downplayed the PS3's high cost, saying early adopters were getting a value-for-money, future-proof console. "It is up there, we don't deny that, but you have to realise that PS2 launched at A$749 in Australia. And if you look at inflation alone in the six years since the PS2 launched, and then you add in all the new technology--the cutting-edge technology like Blu-ray and so on in the PS3--it is great value for money," he said.

Despite the availability of the Xbox 360 and the December launch of the Nintendo Wii in Australia, Ephraim is expecting it will still be a PlayStation Christmas locally in 2006. Ephraim says the PlayStation 2 will dominate Christmas console sales in Australia, forecasting up to 200,000 units being sold between now and the end of December. In fact, Ephraim says the PlayStation 2 will sell more units than either of its next-generation competitors between October and December 2006 this year.

"We think PS2 numbers are going to be huge. Between now and Christmas we're going to put in between 150,000 and 200,000 consoles," Ephraim said. "We think the PS2 is going to be the number one seller full stop by units."

"I don't see Microsoft shifting those numbers, not even close," he said. "At A$649 [for a 20GB Xbox 360 bundle], there are only so many consumers that have that kind of money. You don't do the mass numbers till you hit a price point--we know that historically from PS2 and PS1 that when they were launched at A$699 and A$749."

In June 2006, the PS2, which has sold 2 million units in Australia so far, was reduced in price to A$199.95. Ephraim says PS2 sales have experienced massive growth since the drop, with the two months of sales after the drop showing a 443 percent increase over sales in the two months previous.

Ephraim said Sony's Christmas 2006 marketing push would focus on social games such as the SingStar, Buzz, EyeToy, and Guitar Hero franchises. The games have been dubbed "party starters," and Ephraim says Sony will spend close to A$3 million this Christmas season to promote the console and its games.

Sony today also released figures showing impressive numbers for its peripheral products. According to Sony Computer Entertainment, 265,000 sets of SingStar microphones have been sold in Australia, as well as 300,000 EyeToy cameras, 130,000 sets of Buzz quiz buzzers, and 25,000 Guitar Hero guitars.

"We have a lot of respect for Nintendo, but with a December launch, how much stock are they going to get at a A$400 price point? What is the consumer offering? So I don't think anyone will do more units than a PS2 this year."

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