Gamers may snatch all 1 million PlayStation Portables.
Sony yesterday may have sold all 1 million of the PlayStation Portable video-game machines that went on sale in North America this morning, as the company seeks to crack a market dominated by Nintendo for more than 15 years.
Sony, the world’s No. 2 consumer-electronics maker, may need to add factories to meet demand, said Jack Tretton, an executive vice president in its U.S. unit. The company builds the devices in Chiba, Japan, and will double output to 2 million a month in a few months, he said Wednesday in San Francisco.
Gamers seeking to be among the first to own the device waited in lines for as long as 36 hours in San Francisco and New York before it went on sale at midnight. The gadgets were delivered by armored truck to a Sony store in San Francisco. Howard Stringer, who was named Tokyo-based Sony’s next chief executive officer on March 7, attended the release party for the device in New York.
“Sony is going to struggle to meet demand for this product because it is a slick new device and it is something fun, new and exciting for the hard-core gamer market to get jazzed up about,” said P.J. McNealy, an analyst at San Francisco-based American Technology Research. “This thing is going to sell out tonight, it will sell out over the summertime, and it will be a hot product into the fall.”
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The $250 PlayStation Portable is Sony’s first bid to challenge Nintendo in the $4.5 billion market for handheld gaming devices. Sony’s new gadget plays games, movies and music, and may help Stringer, 63, revive profit growth at the company.
Shoppers on eBay bid as much as $325 for the gadget yesterday.
Sony may capture 41 percent of game devices sold in 2006, in a market that will more than double to $11.2 billion from $4.5 billion in 2004, DFC Intelligence said. The PlayStation Portable may generate sales of about $790 million for Sony in 2005, Banc of America Securities analyst Gary Cooper in San Francisco wrote in a March 10 report.
“I’m going to spend all night and all day playing it,” said Jossle Sison, 18, as he entered his 36th hour waiting outside the PlayStation Store in San Francisco.
“It will help reinvigorate the brand for Sony,” Nitin Gupta, an analyst with Yankee Group, said in an interview. “It is crucial for them to establish themselves in the portable entertainment market. They’ve lost a little bit of the luster in portable audio. This is an opportunity for them.”
The first 200,000 PlayStation Portables that went on sale in Japan Dec. 12 sold out on the first day, and the company has now sold 1.1 million units in the country, Tretton said.
“The PSP will ultimately be a benefit to a number of divisions and create opportunities for our music and movie divisions,” Tretton said Monday.
Nintendo intends to ship 6 million of its dual-screen DS handheld consoles, which cost $150 each, by the end of this month, said Reginald Fils-Aime, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America, in an interview earlier this month.
The Nintendo DS, released in the United States in November, lets players control games by touching a second screen in addition to traditional push buttons.
David Alexander, a 23-year-old real-estate developer in New York, waited in line at a Best Buy store at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 86th Street in New York to secure his PlayStation Portable.
“I’m a staunch Nintendo fan,” Alexander said. “That said, I want the PSP to be a quality system. There’s no reason they can’t both be a success.”