Will the PS3 outsell the Xbox 360 over the holidays?

That's the claim from Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, assuming Microsoft doesn't cut the price of the Xbox 360 this year.

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
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Will the PlayStation 3 overtake Xbox 360 sales this holiday season?
Will the PlayStation 3 overtake Xbox 360 sales this holiday season? Sony

Sony's PlayStation 3 could outsell the Xbox 360 this holiday season if Microsoft doesn't cut the price of its console, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said in an interview published yesterday with IndustryGamers.

"If Microsoft does nothing, I think PS3 will outsell Xbox 360," Pachter told IndustryGamers. "However, my friends at Microsoft are extremely proud, and they absolutely refuse to tolerate the possibility that the PS3 will outsell the Xbox 360. I think they have the ads printed for the Xbox 360 price cut, and will drop them on us the instant they see PS3 sales greater than 360 sales."

The pressure is on Microsoft. Last month, Sony announced that it was cutting the price of its 160GB PlayStation 3 to $249. The move, which came as a surprise, left the 250GB Xbox 360 behind as the most expensive option on the market at $299. However, Microsoft does offer a 4GB Xbox 360 model for $199. The Nintendo Wii currently retails for $150.

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If Sony is able to capitalize on its cheaper price tag and top the Xbox 360 in sales this holiday season, it would be one of the few times the PlayStation 3 maker could stake claim to the console crown. Over the last 14 months, the Xbox 360 has led U.S. console sales in 13 of them. What's more, over the lives of all three consoles, the Wii and the Xbox 360 are outstripping the PlayStation 3's sales.

However, on a worldwide basis, Sony is coming on strong. According to its own tally, the company sold 3.5 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide in its 2006 fiscal year. That figure jumped to 9.1 million and 10.1 million in its 2007 and 2008 fiscal years, respectively. During its 2009 fiscal year, Sony sold 13 million PlayStation 3 units, while last year, it had a total of 14.3 million units sold. Including the 1.8 million units Sony sold in its first fiscal quarter this year, the company has sold a total of 51.8 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide.

In June, Microsoft announced that it had sold 55 million Xbox 360 units worldwide since that console's launch. At the end of June, Nintendo's Wii sales were nearly 88 million.

Whether or not the PlayStation 3's recent price cut will help Sony finally catch the Xbox 360 remains to be seen. But for now, it appears Sony will hold the high ground against Microsoft on the pricing front.

According to Pachter, writing in a research note today, he doesn't expect Microsoft to cut the price of its console "until after the holidays or until sales decline dramatically." However, Pachter does believe that Microsoft will cut the price of its Kinect bundles. Those bundles, which feature both the Xbox 360 and Kinect motion-gaming peripheral, are currently on sale for $299 and $399 for the 4GB console and 250GB console, respectively. He didn't say how much Microsoft might discount those bundles if it follows through with the expected cut.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.