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Sony ships 1 million PS3s in Japan,seen missing target

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Sony’s game unit, Sony Computer Entertainment, said in a statement its global PS3 shipments reached 2 million in about two months after the launch, compared with its original target to hit the figure by the end of December.

Sony launched the new video console in Japan on November 11 and in North America on November 17, and is locked in a battle with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s Wii for the top spot in the $30 billion game market’s console war.

The announcement came a day after Nomura Securities cut its PS3 shipment forecast through March by 25 percent to 4.5 million units, citing worse-than-expected sales.

KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide also said the brokerage estimates Sony selling only a little over 3 million units of the PS3 by March because of its high price and lack of game software available for the console.

“The biggest factor is the high price,” he said. “It is hard to understand for users why they should pay that much for the product.”

Sony’s high-end PS3 retails for about $600 in the United States while the premium Xbox 360 sells for $400 and Nintendo sells the lower-tech Wii for $250. The Xbox 360 debuted in 2005, while Nintendo launched the Wii in the U.S. on November 19 and in Japan on December 2.

The PS3 was outsold by the Wii in Japan by the end of December, according to video game magazine publisher Enterbrain, while retail market research firm NPD has said its sales also lost to Nintendo’s Wii in the United States in December.

Sony Computer Entertainment said it stuck to its target to ship 6 million PS3 by March.

Nomura also lowered its PS3 shipment forecast to 10 million units from 16 million for 2007/08 and to 11 million units from 18 million for 2008/09.

“For home-use video game consoles, the central role of which in our view was usurped by handheld game machine Nintendo DS, we think the absence of a dominant product will lead to a protracted struggle,” Nomura analyst Yuta Sakurai said in a report to clients.

“For the time being, we think Wii will remain on the ascendancy, supported by a lineup of attractive software titles and a broad user base,” he said.

Before the announcement, shares in Sony closed down 0.2 percent at 5,690 yen. The benchmark Nikkei average ended down 0.04 percent.

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