March 22, 2006 3:47 PM PST
Sony's PlayStation 3 race
Reinforcing recent comments by Ken Kutaragi, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, SCE President Phil Harrison told an audience at the Game Developers Conference here that Sony will produce about a million PS3s per month and capacity will ramp up quickly.
The question Sony will have to face until November, and for at least a year afterward, is whether the head start Microsoft got with its November 2005 launch of the Xbox 360 console will be too much for Sony to overcome.
Sony says no, and that the company measures its console successes or failures in 10-year life cycles--and therefore it has plenty of time to catch up.
"It doesn't put us at a competitive disadvantage at all," Harrison told a group of journalists after his keynote address. "Throughout our history, we have never been the first console (of each generation) to launch."
Indeed, while it competed during the current and previous generations with Microsoft, Nintendo and Sega, Sony has become the market leader with PlayStation 2 sales of more than 100 million units and sales of more than a billion games, Harrison said in the keynote.
Still, by the end of November, Microsoft will likely have sold 10 million Xbox 360s worldwide compared to about 1.5 million PlayStation 3s, said P.J. McNealy, a research principal at American Technology Research.
And while Sony sticks to its contention that it doesn't matter what happens in the first year or two of a new console generation, McNealy said the story's more complex than that.
On the one hand, he said, the next-generation console wars between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo (which is expected to release its Revolution console sometime this year) will not truly heat up until 2007's holiday season, despite many observers' assertions that the measurement of success for each company will be performance during this year's holidays.
On the other hand, McNealy said, Microsoft's lead over Sony will be formidable and should not be underestimated just because Sony prefers to look at things over the long haul.
"You never like to be in a position where you're playing catch-up," he said.
Meanwhile, the other big question sure to dog Sony this year is what lessons it learned after watching the problems Microsoft had getting enough Xboxes onto store shelves last holiday season.
Harrison said he doesn't anticipate its November launch and somewhat slow initial production pace being major problems.
"I think that you can see from our history that (Sony Computer Entertainment) has been very effective at matching consumer demand with supply," Harrison told journalists. "I know that some consumers will be disappointed, but that's inevitable at launch."
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