Tretton: Launch shortages biggest PS3 misstep

SCEA president discusses the Cell-powered system's first year on the market, accusations of arrogance.


The PlayStation 3 has seen its share of hiccups in its first year on the market, but one stands out above the rest for Sony Computer Entertainment America president and CEO Jack Tretton. In a recent interview with MSNBC, Tretton zeroed in on the paucity of systems produced for the big launch.

"I don't think there's any question that there were missteps," Tretton said, "but I don't think anybody is being honest with you if they say that the first year of any platform goes perfectly according to plan. I think the biggest miss for us was the launch, in that we had easily a million consumers in North America alone that wanted to get their hands on a PS3 ...and we had roughly 200,000 units to take advantage of that demand."

Tretton called that shortage "the biggest disappointment" of the system's first year on the market, but noted that SCEA has learned from it. Specifically, Tretton said it was crucial for a console maker to be clear about their manufacturing capacity before they start telling people when the system will be available. Tretton also said he understands concerns about the system's price tag.

"I think we knew there would be pricing sensitivities and I think we've certainly seen that," Tretton said. "But I think the challenge of educating consumers on the technology is something that--I don't know that we underestimated, but it remains a formidable goal. The days of just, 'Here it is, here's what it costs, plug it in...and start playing' are over. There's a learning curve a consumer needs to go through before they make a decision on which platform to buy, and I think it's a lot more complicated than it was five, 10, 15 years ago."

MSNBC also brought up criticisms that Sony has been arrogant in its handling of the PS3, asking if the aforementioned "here it is, plug it in" approach could lead to that perception.

"I don't know that we were ever considered arrogant by consumers," Tretton said, adding, "I think the arrogant claims came from the press and bloggers more than true consumers. ... I think the arrogance claim comes with a leadership position and being unwilling to admit that you're failing. And anybody who's been through media training or been with the press isn't going to get on a soapbox and talk about their failures. If that gets construed as arrogance, then I guess that's a risk you have to take."

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