Check monthly console sales from the XBox's
launch in 2005 to the present day, and Sony's
PS3 lags both the XBox 360 and the Wii. According to the most recent data available, Sony has sold 33.5 million PS3's, Microsoft
is at 39 million XBox 360s, and Nintendo has moved 67.45 million Wiis. It comes as something of a surprise, then, to hear Dave Mercer, an analyst with Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices, predicting that Sony's PS3 will ultimately outsell the Wii over its lifetime. Mercer predicts sales of 103 million units for the Wii compared to 127 million for the PS3.
"Nintendo has done a great job with the Wii in bringing console games to new audiences,” says David Mercer, Principal Analyst and report author. "But its sales are now falling, particularly in mature markets, and its installed base will peak in 2011. Ownership of both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 will hit their highest points between 2012 and 2014."
The report predicts that worldwide TV games console sales in 2010 will fall by 9% to 47.5 million units; sales of the Wii are expected to reach 17.5 million units, the PS3 14.0 million, the Xbox 360 10.5 million and the PS2 5.5 million.
The only problem with Mercer's prediction is that it flies in the face of console sales and consumer trends to date. He's not alone in thinking that weaker-than-expected sales in 2009 might signal that the Wii is approaching its saturation point, but modeling future economic forecasts based on 2009 is like modeling typical feline behavior on the antics of a cat you've just shot full of Angel Dust and LSD. A year ago this month, economists were still dourly warning that we could be facing a second Great Depression and economic forecasting wasn't exactly calling for clear skies and sunny weather. It wasn't until Q4 2009 that we began to see an industry recovery.
If Mercer is correct, XBox sales will be just 75 percent of PS3 sales in 2010, but there's nothing on the horizon to explain why consumers would reverse the historical trend that's given Microsoft a 16 percent lead in console sales to date. True, the PS3 has Blu-ray and Sony has talked about bringing 3D technology to the PS3. The XBox 360 has Project Natal and Halo Reach. Of the three consoles, Nintendo has cut its prices the least and has never introduced a new version of the console—a new Wii HD with 720/1080P output and more external storage options could potentially counter a sales drop, especially if Nintendo combined it with a $50 price cut for the Wii SD.
There's no reason to think consumers are suddenly going to reorganize their collective console preferences. Color us skeptical.