Sony has gloomy holiday, PS3 tops 21 million

Slumping sales of PS2, PSP, and PS3 hardware blamed for 32 percent drop in game division's revenues during last three months of 2008.

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Sony released its financial report for the holiday quarter today, showing that the electronics giant's gaming division had a blue Christmas, with profits dipping very nearly into the red. The news was not entirely unexpected; last week Sony lowered its forecast for the full fiscal year and announced a major restructuring plan.

Increased PlayStation 3 software sales were the lone bright spot in gaming for Sony's holiday quarter.
Increased PlayStation 3 software sales were the lone bright spot in gaming for Sony's holiday quarter.

For the three months ended December 31, 2008, Sony's game division posted sales of ¥393.8 billion ($4.33 billion), down more than 32 percent from the same period of 2007. The game division's operating income also took a sizable hit, plummeting 97 percent from ¥12.9 billion ($144 million) in the home stretch of 2007 to just ¥0.4 billion ($4 million) for the 2008 holiday quarter.

Sony blamed the numbers partially on currency fluctuations. However, it also noted that hardware sales of the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and PSP had all decreased year-over-year. For the quarter, the PS3 managed 4.46 million sales (slightly off from the previous year's 4.9 million). Add that to the 16.85 million-unit milestone that Sony announced last October, and the PS3's sales life-to-date worldwide total reached 21.31 million as of December 31. By comparison, Nintendo's Wii sold nearly 45 million units and Microsoft's Xbox 360 sold 28 million units worldwide as of the end of 2008.

The last quarter of 2008 saw Sony's other two platforms slide year-over-year. The period saw 5.08 million PSP systems sold worldwide--down from 5.72 million in 2007--and 2.52 million PS2 systems sold, less than half the prior calendar Q4's 5.4 million.

The software numbers for the quarter were a little better, with the PS3 seeing a bump from 26 million games sold to 40.8 million. However, PS2 software sales were down more than 50 percent to 29.7 million units, and PSP sales were 2.8 million lower, to end the quarter with 15.5 million games sold.

As of press time, Sony's stock was trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $20.42, down more than 2 percent from Wednesday's close.

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