Sony confident of hitting PS3 targets

Sony is confident it will hit shipment targets for its recently launched PlayStation 3 game console, its president said Thursday.

Prior to the launch of the PS3 in November, Sony said it would ship 2 million consoles this year in Japan and the U.S. and 6 million by the end of its financial year in March 2007. Those targets remain achievable and won’t be changed, said Ryoji Chubachi, Sony president and chief executive officer of the electronics business, in a briefing with reporters at its Tokyo headquarters.

“With the PS3 the bottleneck has been availability of blue lasers but now production of those has been launched in volume,” he said. “We did take time preparing ourselves but as of today we have reached our target production rate. Based on projections for this year we will reach [the PS3 shipment targets].”

The PlayStation 3 was launched in Japan on Nov. 11 and in North America, Hong Kong and Taiwan on Nov. 17.

Around 81,639 PlayStation 3 consoles were sold over the launch weekend in Japan, according to market data from Media Create. Demand for the console vastly outstripped supply but sales have dropped each week since the launch due to scarcity, according to the figures.

Media Create estimates 42,099 units were sold in the first full week of sales and then 32,622 units in the week from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27. For the following week, the latest for which data is available, sales were lower still at 31,436 units, the company estimated.

The PlayStation 3 had been due to launch in Europe in November but the laser shortage meant Sony postponed the European launch until March 2007. That date remains unchanged, said Chubachi.

The executive also said that Sony will keep looking at ways of reducing the manufacturing cost of the console so that it can turn a profit on the PS3 as quickly as possible.

Traditionally, game console makers have sold their machines at cost or a loss and then relied on game software sales to make a profit. In the case of the PS3, production costs are high and losses run at between US$240 and $305 per console sold, according to a parts breakdown by iSuppli.

One of the reasons the PS3 is relatively expensive is the Cell processor that sits at its heart. Developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, the chip is one of the most powerful yet developed and last year Sony created a team to look at how to use the chip in applications other than gaming. Chubachi said the team remains focused on this task but he declined to detail when the Cell might find its way into a television or other consumer electronics product.

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