A September hardware price reduction and the introduction of a slimmer form factor for Sony's PlayStation 3 benefited holiday quarter unit sales of the company's flagship games console, Sony said Thursday.
The Tokyo-based electronics and gaming giant said that PS3 sales during its fiscal third quarter (October-December) reached 6.5 million units worldwide, up from 4.5 million for the same quarter a year prior. Total worldwide unit sales as of December 31, 2009 were 33.5 million.
Unit sales rose following a 25 percent PS3 retail price cut in September that brought the 80GB version of the console down to $299. Sony introduced the new price alongside a new, slimmer PS3, backed by a re-branding and major marketing campaign.
But while the PS3 enjoyed a 44 percent jump in unit sales, Sony's PSP handheld and the 10-year-old PS2 saw declines. Sony sold 4.2 million PSPs during the quarter, versus 5.1 million for the same quarter a year ago. PS2 hardware sales were 2.1 million, down from 2.5 million, and PS2 software sales likewise declined.
Profitability in Sony's games business was "relatively unchanged," Sony said, "mainly due to an improvement in the cost of PS3 hardware."
For the year ending March 31, 2009, Sony expects operating results in its network division, which houses PlayStation and Vaio PC businesses, to "deteriorate slightly" due to slowing PS2 hardware and software sales, but the company expects an improvement in PS3 profitability will benefit the games business.
Quarterly operating profits in the networked products division were ¥19.4 billion ($211 million), up ¥25.3 billion ($279.43 million) from a year ago, thanks to higher Vaio sales. Sales were up 2 percent to ¥606.1 billion ($6.59 billion) in the division during the quarter.
Overall Sony sales were up 3.9 percent during the quarter to ¥2.24 trillion ($24.33 billion), thanks mainly to increased revenues in the company's Financial Services and Pictures segments, Sony said. Net income rose ¥79.2 billion ($861 million), up from ¥10.4 billion ($114.88 million) a yaer ago, reflecting recent cost-cutting measure within the company.
Sony also lessened its full-year net loss forecast to ¥70 billion ($785 million) from the previous forecast of a ¥95 billion ($1.05 billion) net loss. The firm still expects full-year revenues to hit ¥7.3 trillion ($80.65 billion).