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Monday, October 16, 2006

Sony Sales Execs Towing The Company Line (MSFT)(SNE)

By William Trent, CFA of Stock Market Beat

Speaking to Australia’s The Age, Sony (SNE) Australia’s Michael Ephraim displayed some fancy footwork. We were astonished by his ability to spin so much without falling over.

Do you think Wii can attract many new consumers who haven’t previously owned a console before?

Nintendo is a great company as far as games development goes, they have been around fora long time, they know how to deliver an entertaining product. My only question for this Christmas on Wii is the price point. Even though it’s affordable, at $400 plus [Australian - about $250 US] whatever you need to buy accessories-wise, I’m guessing you need to spend about $500 to take home a Wii and enjoy it. I can’t judge the product because I haven’t played it but I’ve heard good things about it. For this Christmas, I think that price point is still not family entertainment because $500 is a lot to fork out, but we welcome the Nintendo heritage of gaming where they can appeal to a broader audience because long-term that is critical for the industry. What we’ve done on PlayStation 2 with social gaming has broadened the audience and we’re glad that they are attempting to do similar things to open up the market to families and never-before gamers. Time will tell. For this Christmas I think the price for what it specifically does as a video games machine is a bit pricey, but I think that their strategy long term we have great respect for.

Do you expect 360 to do well among the more traditional gaming audience now that PlayStation 3 won’t arrive until March?

If you look at what’s happening in retail, 360 has done fairly well at launch but since then it has struggled to kick up a gear to the next level of sales. I think their product offering is still not broad enough. The content is narrow and appeals only to a very core group. I don’t see content that will appeal to a family or a broader mass-market audience. It’s still pricey, and I’m sure Microsoft (MSFT) will do everything they can, but if you just look at the offerings from each format and the marketplace that we are now playing in, especially PlayStation 2, it has to be affordable because we are talking about mass-market and non traditional gamers. We clearly have that advantage going into this Christmas. Microsoft’s price point at $600-plus a big investment for family entertainment.

So, the $250 (US) Wii and the $400 X-Box are too pricey to attract the mass market, but the $600 PlayStation3 will somehow pull it off? That must be some pretty mean kool-aid they’re drinking.

The author may hold a position in the securities discussed. A current list of the author's holdings is available here.

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