Sony's PlayStation 3 made its highly anticipated debut in Japan to long lines yesterday, with local stores selling out their supplies of the video game console in a pattern that's expected to be repeated around the world.
Throngs of people lined up for hours around Bic Camera, an electronics retailer in downtown Tokyo, to get their hands on one of the consoles. The enthusiasm was so great, clerks with megaphones asked the crowd to stop pushing, warning that all sales would end if there were any injuries.
"Standing in line today is the only way to make sure I got one," said Takayuki Sato, 30, among the buyers who queued up at Bic Camera in a line snaking around the building in a complete circle.
But would-be buyers were turned away even before the store opened at 7am.
The retailer refused to say how many machines it had, but a spokeswoman speaking on condition of anonymity per company policy said the store had wrapped up sales of its entire supply by 1pm.
Short supplies were reported elsewhere, too. Sanae Saito, a clerk at Yodobashi Camera Co chain, said her store's stock had already sold out Saturday morning, although she declined to say how many machines were available.
"It's all sold out with the people in line now," she said. "So many people waited in line."
Plagued with production problems, Sony Corp has managed to ready only 100,000 PlayStation 3 machines in time for its debut in Japan. When it goes on sale in the US on Nov. 17, some 400,000 PS3 consoles will be available there. The console's European launch has been pushed back until March.
It was not immediately clear whether the console sold out at all retailers, and Sony said that information would not be available for several days.
Ken Kutaragi, the head of Sony's game unit known as the "father of the PlayStation," said he was thrilled by the reception to the PS3.
"I am so happy so many people are waiting," he said in an informal countdown ceremony at Bic Camera. "Thank you for waiting from late last night."
Powered by the new "Cell" computer chip and supported by the next-generation Blu-ray video disc format, the console delivers nearly movie-like graphics and a realistic gaming experience.
Sony will be losing money for a some time on each PS3 sold because of the high costs for research and production that went into the highly sophisticated machine.
Game makers, including Sony, must recoup the exorbitant development costs for the machines by selling software, and programming the PS3's cutting-edge hardware is an expensive and time-consuming task. Only five games were on sale for the PS3's Japan launch date.
Sony expects to lose US$1.7 billion in its gaming division in the fiscal year through March next year.
In an unprecedented move, Sony slashed the price for the cheaper PS3 model in Japan ahead of its launch by 20 percent to about US$420 in what some critics have scorned as a desperate effort to maintain market share in the face of intense competition with Nintendo Co's Wii console and Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360.
Wii goes on sale Nov. 19 in the US and Dec. 2 in Japan. The Xbox 360 has had a year start.
Prices vary by retailer, but the more expensive model, with a 60-gigabyte drive, sells in Japan for about US$510.
"It's a bit expensive, but I really wanted it," said Hirotoshi Iwadate, a 23-year-old hospital worker, clutching a big bag with his new PS3 after standing in line since 10pm Friday. "I came here straight from work."
The PS3 was initially promised for worldwide sales for spring this year, but was postponed in March to this month. In September, the European sales date was delayed by another four months.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
The output of the global smartphone industry this year is to contract by 7.8 percent on an annual basis as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a global recession, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report on Monday. The global production of smartphones is expected to fall to 1.29 billion units, as the pandemic dampens demand for consumer electronics, leading to a decline in shipments across Europe and North America, TrendForce said. With consumers delaying smartphone purchases and thereby lengthening the device replacement cycle, overall prices would suffer a setback that is expected to negatively affect the profitability of smartphone
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a