Sony PS3 outsells Nintendo Wii in Japan

TOKYO – Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game machine outsold rival Nintendo’s Wii in November in Japan for the first time, according to a survey released Friday, in an upset in the yearlong battle between next-generation consoles.

In the four weeks through Nov. 25, Sony Corp. sold 183,217 PS3s in Japan, while Nintendo Co. sold 159,193 Wii consoles, market researcher Enterbrain found.

The improved sales of the PS3 follow the price cuts on the machine around the world, including Japan. There have been no price cuts on the Wii, which sells for about US$249.99 in North America, 249 euros ($370) in Europe and 25,000 yen (US$230; €156) in Japan.

Tokyo-based Sony slashed the price of the PS3 with 20 gigabytes of hard disk memory by about 10 percent to 44,980 yen (US$409; €278) from 49,980 yen (US$454; €308).

The one with 60 gigabytes of memory, which were selling for about 60,000 yen (US$545; €370), was reduced to about 54,980 yen (US$500; €339). Sony also introduced a 39,980 yen (US$363; €246) 40 GB model.

Sousuke Kamei, spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment, the company’s game unit, declined comment on the Enterbrain data as they weren’t the company’s own or Nintendo’s numbers. But he said sales of the 40-gigabyte machines were brisk in Japan.

”Sales are gaining momentum as we head to the year-end, and the availability of more game software for the PS3 is also helping boost sales,” he said.

Although its predecessor the PlayStation 2 dominated the gaming market, the PS3 has struggled against the Wii.

Boosting PS3 sales is crucial for Sony’s overall business strategy because it also supports the Blu-ray disc next-generation video, which is vying with the rival HD-DVD format.

The Wii has succeeded in drawing people not usually accustomed to playing electronic games by offering easier-to-play games that use a wandlike handheld device for the remote controller.

By October, Nintendo, based in Kyoto, had shipped 13.2 million units worldwide of the Wii, which went on sale late last year. Nintendo, which also makes Pokemon and Super Mario games, is expecting to sell 17.5 million Wiis by the end of this fiscal year, March 31.

Sony had sold 5.6 million PS3s worldwide as of the end of September. The console went on sale late last year in Japan and the U.S. and in March in Europe.

The PS3 has also lagged behind the Xbox 360 machine from U.S. software maker Microsoft Corp. Microsoft has sold 13.4 million Xbox 360 consoles over the last two years. – AP

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