Executives at Sony's games division may not be carried away by last month's PlayStation 3 sales data but they could be forgiven a wry smile at the first good news for many years.
After bleeding red ink for seven consecutive quarters, the performance of the PS3 in November could prove the catalyst for a strong holiday season for Sony Computer Entertainment. For the first time since its launch, sales of the PS3 last month surpassed those of Nintendo's Wii in Japan, primarily because Sony introduced a 40-gigabyte model for Y40,000 ($360) and slashed prices on older models.
Continued losses in Sony's games division – following large investment costs for the PS3 and lacklustre sales – has weighed on overall profitability at the Japanese consumer electronics conglomerate, as it is one of the main drivers of future growth. Analysts do not expect the unit to be back in the black until 2009.
Others point out that since the PS3 has such a small presence at the moment, it has nowhere to go but up.
Slower-than-expected Wii sales in Japan have provided the chief boost for the PS3. Though sales in the US and Europe are still strong, Wii sales have started to taper off in Japan: it has a staggering 60 per cent market share and the buzz surrounding it has died down.
In the five years to 2012, Soichiro Fukuda, analyst at Nikko Citigroup, expects the Wii to capture a 46 per cent global market share, compared with 33 per cent for Microsoft's Xbox360 and 22 per cent for the PS3.