PS3 Ramps Up From Slow Start

Finally some good news for Sony: In January, the Playstation brand posted its highest numbers in its history, as PS3 sales began to pick up, taking the first few steps toward closing the gap between it and the market leader, the Xbox 360.

Of course, given the bluster of Sony sales execs, you'd alternate between thinking that there was a PS3 in every living room in the country -- and that PS3s can't be had for love or money at retail. The former ain't quite right -- data released this week by the NPD Group put the PS3 in third place, with the Nintendo Wii moving 436,000 units and the 360 selling 294,000, trailed by the PS3 with 243,554. And the latter is quite effectively refuted here.

Despite its slow start, though, Sony and the PS3 have enough brand loyalty accumulated from years of dominance with the first two Playstations to ensure a solid install base in the long term. But as time draws short before the long term arrives, Sony's most glaring weakness -- aside from its high price point and lack of present killer titles -- gets worse.



Nintendo is slowly rolling out its online apps, and Xbox Live is the top online service among the next-gen consoles, both as a consumer platform and a tool for marketers to reach gamers. Sony has the Playstation Store and the Playstation Network, but nothing comparing to Live, and no apparent plans to rearrange its online offering to something more integrated.

Sony needs to mobilize its fanboys the same way Microsoft has: it's hard to believe how passionate 360 owners get about their Gamerscores or their buddy lists -- it's all the fun of social networking with added violent competition. Call it the Playnation, call it anything but the Playstation Network -- but until there's a more coherent online offering from the PS3, it'll spend a lot longer in third place.

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