Saturday, November 18, 2006

Playstation 3 has landed

The much anticipated and tardy PlayStation 3 (PS3) was a sell-out hit yesterday as Sony finally launched the new console to long queues across Japan’s capital in a much-needed boost to its faltering recovery. From boys in baggy pants to teenage girls, suited businessmen and even some grey-haired seniors, thousands of bleary eyed game fans braved the cold Tokyo night in the hope of getting their hands on one of the prized new machines.

With, what for some was a paltry, 100,000 PS3s available on day one in Japan due to production problems with the high-definition DVD player, many people were left disappointed. Akihiro Okawa, 25, was first in a very long line outside the capital’s mammoth Yodobashi Camera store in the discount electronics district of Akihabara when the store opened at 7am. “I came right before the doors closed last night. When Sony announced the PS3 for the first time I immediately thought I wanted to buy it,” he said. “Now that it’s fully sinking in that I bought the PS3, I’m very happy. I don’t quite know what’s going on in my head right now. Once I get back home I’m going to play it immediately for a little while, then go back to sleep.”

He was joined in his excitement and lack of sleep by Tomohiro Shimokawa, a 24-year-old company worker who waited for about ten hours for his PS3. “I’m very excited at this moment. I didn’t sleep at all so I read magazines and talked with other people,” he said, his long wait finally over. Sony has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the PS3 and its success is considered vital to the iconic company’s future following a series of setbacks including recalls of millions of faulty computer batteries.

“There’s lot riding on it for Sony right now,” said Standard and Poor’s equity analyst John Yang. “If the PS3 fails, I think markets are going to start questioning Sony’s credibility in the next few years,” he added. However, although the sell-out launch in Japan will provide some much-needed cheer for Sony investors analysts say the electronics giant still faces a bumpy path to profitability in its games division amid fierce competition from rivals.

Not that it mattered for the thousands more would-be buyers who were turned away empty handed even before stores opened, as clerks with loud hailers and uniformed police shepherded people into long snaking queues. “We started turning people away at three in the morning,” said Yodobashi Camera store manager Shinichi Adachi. “They went away with disappointed faces because they braved the cold and spent time waiting in line,” he added.

His store sold 1,980 PS3 consoles as stocks quickly ran out. “The PS3 is an extremely popular product. Even if we had over 4,000 consoles, they would have been snapped up today,” he said, adding, “I don’t know when the next delivery date is.” It was a similar scene in the skyscraper district of Shinjuku where by midnight about one thousand anxious PlayStation fans were already camped out in the chilly autumn night.

First in line there was 22-year-old hair designer Todoroki Hirotaka and his friend Xu Minrui, a 23-year-old student, who both arrived at 6pm on Friday. “I love the PlayStation,” said Xu. “It’s a bit expensive but I’m going to buy it anyway. The games are the best,” he said. Meanwhile, Sony Gulf said that the UAE was gearing up for the March 2007 launch date of the PS3. “Anticipation is building ahead of the official arrival of PS3 in the region,” said Tim Stokes, sales and marketing director, PlayStation Division – Sony Gulf,

“And rightly so. The lucky few people who have managed to try it first hand are raving about its features and the quality of graphics making it one of the most eagerly awaited consumer product launches of all time,” he added. However, if the PS3 is to be a success, either here or elsewhere, it is going to have to flight off the competition provided by the likes of Nintendo and Microsoft. Below 7DAYS takes a look at the PS3 and its two rivals.


The sleek, black PS3 is described by Sony as a ‘super computer’ for entertainment. At its heart is the ‘Cell’ processor developed jointly with IBM and Toshiba which Sony says is 40 times faster than the chip that runs PlayStation 2.

The PS3 comes with a 20-gigabyte or 60-gigabyte hard disc and incorporates Sony’s Blu-ray high-definition new DVD player. Users can browse the Internet, chat to friends, listen to music and store photos as well as download content and access online games.

Five games will be available at the launch but more are coming soon. Games for the PlayStation and PS2 will also be compatible.


The video game pioneer is on a quest for market dominance again with the Wii which launches in the US on November 19 for $249.99, almost half the price of the PS3. Nintendo caused a stir last year when it unveiled a one-handed wireless controller similar to a television remote and equipped with motion sensors.

By waving or swinging the controller, it can serve as a tennis racket, car steering wheel or weapon. It also includes a speaker and rumble feature. Nintendo is promoting the Wii as a family-friendly machine, allowing users to view news and weather information, look at digital photos, browse the internet and to post messages to other family members.


The US computer software giant launched the Xbox 360 in November last year, a whole year ahead of the PS3, seeking revenge for the mediocre debut of the original XBox which flopped in Japan.

In October Microsoft said it had sold six million Xbox 360s worldwide.

The new version is equipped with a DVD player capable of handling CDs and digital photographs through a built-in Windows Media Center – the same bundle of applications found in Microsoft’s Windows XP PC operating system.

The console has an Ethernet port to enable high-speed internet connections for the popular ‘Xbox Live’ subscription service, and other ports to hook up digital cameras or MP3 players.

Microsoft will soon launch a service that allows users to download movies.

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