The record-breaking success of the PlayStation 3 in Europe has rescued the games console from “the perception wars” that hit sales in Japan, says Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s chief executive.
Sir Howard said Sony was close to selling 800,000 units in Europe. “I think [in] the first two days in the UK, £100m ($199m) revenue changed hands and that’s probably the largest consumer electronics sale in history.”
The PlayStation 3 had come into the European market “with more games and, perhaps we lived up to the expectations in Europe in a way that perhaps we didn’t in Japan”.
Sony has yet to confirm whether it has hit its ambitious PS3 global shipment target of 6m units by the end of March.
“In the March quarter of 2008, Sony will start making money on the console,” said Yuji Fujimori, analyst at Goldman Sachs. “In the longer term, I see the PS3’s market share at 50 per cent within three years. In the shorter term, I see it at below 30 per cent.”
Sir Howard, who was in Tokyo for Monday's global launch of Spider-Man 3, said: “I see no reason why we can’t use content to drive the sales of hardware as the network connectivity becomes more sophisticated.”
The Welsh-born head of Sony, who has vowed to achieve group margins of 5 per cent by March 2008, admitted the turnround was not complete. “The silo walls are down – we’re staring across the walls at each other but we haven’t quite shaken hands all the way around,” he said.
The consumer electronics arm has been performing very well, driven by robust sales of Bravia liquid crystal display TVs, digital cameras and video cameras.
Sony has raised its full-year operating income forecast by Y10bn to Y60bn ($500m).
Mr Fujimori at Goldman Sachs sees a “strong possibility” that Sony’s fiscal 2007 full-year electronics division operating margin could reach a record high of 7 per cent or more, taking into account the weak yen and fixed-cost reductions.
Sir Howard said he was treading a fine line when it came to disposing of lossmaking units. “We are very reluctant to give up on unprofitable businesses.”