Sony plans to sell 10 million PS3s this year

Sony plans to boost sales of of Blu-ray drives to 7 million units in the year ahead, from 2 million over the past fiscal year, while also selling another 10 million PS3 game machines without "drastic" price cuts.

This according to Nobuyuki Oneda, Sony Corp.'s executive VP and CFO, during his company's quarterly earnings report late yesterday.

Also over the next 12 months, Sony will increase its focus on Internet-based gaming software for the PlayStation 3, Oneda said, during a presentation of Sony financial results for fiscal 2007 that showed the company rebounding in the fourth quarter, led by improved results for Sony's games unit.

From January through March of 2008, Sony achieved net income of 29 billion yen, or around $278 million, as opposed to a loss of $67.6 billion yen for the same period a year earlier.

With sales of the PS3 rising, Sony started to recover the costs of developing a new chip for the console, despite having cut its prices. Sony's losses in the games sector amounted to 11.5 billion yen for January through March of 2008, compared with losses of 107.8 billion yen for the same period a year earlier.

Although Sony's fourth quarter results were hurt by a decline in the stock market value of Sony's financial holdings, the company almost tripled its net income for the full fiscal year, with a particularly strong sales increase of 8.9% for Sony's electronics unit, which includes Vaio PCs, the Handycam video camera, and the Cybershot digital camera.

Questioned by financial analysts, Oneda indicated that, although pricing on PS3s might drop further somewhat over year ahead, any future price reductions won't be major.

Now that Sony has sold almost 10 million PS3 units worldwide, "Our strategy is that we should focus more [on] Internet-related service operations" and on software rather than "to increase the [PS3] quantity by adjusting the prices," the CFO told analysts. "[In] '07, we sold about 9.26 million [PS3] units, and this year we are expecting about 10 million units. So the increase is not so [much] bigger than you probably might expect.

"That is [for] the following reasons: [In] fiscal year '07, the most important thing [was] for Sony Group to establish the platform for PS3...At least [10 million] units [have] to be sold to create a platform. So therefore, in fiscal '07, even though [our] cost [for] hardware [was] much higher than the price itself, we had to sell close to the 10 million sets in fiscal year '07," he continued.

"If you consider the long lifetime of the PS3, [we] don't think it is time [now] to aggressively sell the hardware quantity this year."

Oneda declined to give specifics about Sony's pricing strategy for the year ahead. But in order for Sony to sell another 10 million PS3s over the next 12 months, he said, "I don't think that we really have to adjust the pricing so much."

He also said that he expects Sony will sell more PS3 machines during the second half of the fiscal year -- from October 2008 through March 2009 -- than over the first half of the fiscal year, from April through September 2008.

Meanwhile, this week, Microsoft announced sales of 10 million units for its competing Xbox 360 in the United States alone.

The Xbox 360, however, came to market a full year ahead of both Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii. Statistics from the NPD Group, as given by Reuters, show US sales of 8.8 million units for the Wii and 4.1 million units for the PS3, to date.

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