Sony Corp. (6758), poised to release the PlayStation 4 game console this week, is confident it can meet analysts’ sales estimates of 3 million units by year-end, exploiting an early advantage over Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s Xbox One.
Sony will have adequate supplies of the $399 PS4 through Christmas and stands by earlier projections for sales of 5 million units by March, Jack Tretton, president and chief executive officer of the company’s U.S. computer entertainment division, said today in an interview.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint, but getting out to a nice start is a good thing to do,” Tretton said. “That hurdle has been cleared. We’re very, very confident we’re in great shape.”
Tretton’s remarks suggest Sony will avoid the supply problems that slowed early sales of the PlayStation 3 in 2006. The new console hits U.S. stores on Nov. 15, followed by Europe on Nov. 29, and will reach 32 countries for the holidays. Microsoft’s Xbox One will debut in 13 countries a week later, down from an original target of 21 markets.
Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco, last month estimated each company would sell 3 million units worldwide this year.
“We’re very comfortable with it,” Tretton said. “I’m excited about next week to be able to talk about what was sold as opposed to what we may sell.”
Sony’s American depositary receipts fell 0.8 percent to $16.61 at the close in New York. Shares of the Tokyo-based company have advanced 48 percent this year.
In August, Microsoft delayed the release of the $499 Xbox One in eight countries, including Russia and the Netherlands, until 2014 to make sure it had enough supplies for larger markets.
Both companies have added online features to their new machines, infusing them with entertainment options such as access to movies and TV shows to make the devices the center of consumers’ living rooms.
Sony won praise earlier this year for its lower price, and keeping supplies flowing is crucial for its plan to get an early sales advantage.
“The only hurdle left that is not a non-issue until it’s over is launching the thing, having people engage with the network and it all goes very smoothly,” Tretton said.
Andrew House, head of Sony’s game operation worldwide, in September forecast sales of 5 million PS4 units by the company’s fiscal year-end in March.
Wayne Hickey, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment on the company’s projection for Xbox One sales.
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