The announcement by Sony of a dramatic reduction in PS3s from the initial 2 million console mark to a scant 500,000 across both Japan and North America rocked the Internet today. European gamers were perhaps the most affected, as the launch of the most powerful console ever made was pushed back to March of 2007. The reason for the substantial drop in launch units was attributed to difficulties with the manufacturing of the blue laser diode, which is a key component to the console.
While rumors flew on message boards that this was the death knell of Sony, other rumors about the future of Blu-Ray and the potential skyrocket in prices for systems (thanks to the decrease in available systems) on Ebay ran rampant. We were lucky to have Dave Karraker, the Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Sony Computer Entertainment America, provide answers to some of the most pressing questions surrounding the reduced number of systems.
IGN: Despite the fact that you're sticking to the "six million units by the end of the fiscal year", there have been reports that only 400,000 units will be available in North America on November 17th and 100,000 units in Japan. Are these reports true?
Dave Karraker: At a media meeting this morning in Japan, Ken Kutaragi confirmed that there would be 400,000 units at launch for North America and 100,000 units in Japan. The North American number is just below what we had available at launch for PS2 and is higher than what Microsoft had for Xbox 360. More importantly, in my mind, is that we will have 1 to 1.2 million units available by December 31 in North America. This is more than double what Xbox 360 sold through during the same period (TRST data) and should assure there aren't significant stock dips at retail.
IGN: What makes you so sure you're still going to be able to deliver 6 million units worldwide by the end of the fiscal year?
Karraker: The main contributing factor to the delay in the launch in the SCEE territories was the lack of sufficient supplies of the blue laser diode. As we move along, month over month, we will see increased efficiencies in the production of these key components, thus increasing supply. We are confident in our 6 million global projection by the end of our fiscal year.
IGN: What caused the delay? Consumer Blu-ray players are already available nationwide.
Karraker: Consumer Blu-Ray players are available nationwide, but not in the quantities we are producing the PS3.
IGN: Will the impending shortage be a detriment to the system or will it bolster its prestige in the long run?
Karraker: Ken Kutaragi was very apologetic this morning to all of our customers, consumers and third parties in the SCEE territories that will be affected by the delay, so I would say it is not something we would view as a bolster to our image. However, we do feel confident that as the units are made available in each given territory, we will have no problem selling through our entire inventory.
IGN: Do you think this is going to change the public's perception of Sony and the PlayStation 3 seeing that the public is already skeptical about the system due to its price and other factors?
Karraker: What Sony is aiming to achieve with the launch of the PS3 is both evolutionary and revolutionary. Sony has some very aggressive goals for the system in terms of performance. Any time you push the envelope as far as we are pushing it, there are risks. However, at the end of the day, when people see how advanced this system is, the snags we may have encountered along the way, will quickly fade into the past.
IGN: Will the European launch see some sort of official launch bundle or pack-in to strengthen its later release?
Karraker: No announcement has been made regarding this.
IGN: Being as Sony is betting on the PlayStation 3 to fully launch the Blu-ray format, will this affect its future? Will it bolster HD-DVD's market share?
Karraker: Even with the delay of the launch of PS3 in the SCEE territories, we will have a larger installed base (through PS3) than the original DVD format had at launch. The PS3 will have a tremendous impact on the advancement of the Blu-Ray format.
IGN: Thanks for your time, Dave.