PlayStation 3 continues its climb, despite Xbox 360 pressure

Sony says it will sell 15 million PlayStation 3 units this fiscal year, up from the 14.3 million it sold in the prior 12 months.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Sony's PlayStation 3 may be trailing the Xbox 360 and Wii in total sales, but the console's steady climb is helping it gain ground.

According to Reuters, Sony Computer Entertainment head Andrew House told reporters today that the PlayStation 3 is on target to sell 15 million units during the current fiscal year that ends in March.

If the PlayStation 3 does reach 15 million units sold, it would mark the fifth-consecutive year of unit-sales growth for the console. During Sony's 2006 fiscal year, it sold 3.5 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide. The company followed that up with 9.1 million, 10.1 million, and 13 million unit sales in the 2007, 2008, and 2009 fiscal years, respectively. The 2010 fiscal year saw PlayStation 3 sales hit 14.3 million units.

That growth stands in stark contrast to the sales Nintendo's Wii has been posting over the last few years.

Back in January, Nintendo announced that for the last three consecutive years, it had sold at least 7 million Wii units in the U.S. However, what the company didn't say is that in 2008, it sold 10 million Wii units in the U.S., and followed that up with more than 9 million units sold in 2009. Last year, its sales hit 7 million units.

But it's not just the U.S. During the six-month period ended September 30, Nintendo sold 3.35 million Wii units worldwide. During the same period the previous year, its Wii sales reached nearly 5 million units.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360's sales are growing. During Black Friday week alone, Microsoft had its biggest week ever, selling nearly 1 million consoles to U.S.-based customers. And over the last several months, the Xbox 360 has easily outpaced PlayStation 3 and Wii sales, cementing its position as a leader in the U.S. market.

That said, it's important to take a full look at console sales. And on that front, Sony might actually be doing a bit better than Microsoft. So far, Sony has sold 55.5 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide. Microsoft, on the other hand, has sold 57.6 million Xbox 360s around the world, but that console launched about a year before the PlayStation 3.

Although Nintendo is probably unreachable for Sony or Microsoft--the Mario creator has sold 89 million Wiis--it seems somewhat likely that the PlayStation 3 could, at some point this year, given its strong sales, outpace the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales.

But Sony is about more than just video games. The company's television business is in trouble, prompting some shareholders to call on management to sell it off, while other divisions are getting squeezed by tight margins. The impact of that is major: Sony says it will report a $1 billion loss this year, and Fitch Ratings has downgraded the company to BBB-, just one notch above a "junk" investment.