Sony Corp. (6758) will sell a smaller, lighter version of the PlayStation 3 console this holiday season as it tries to win back customers flocking to games played on mobile devices and personal computers.
The new consoles, which have more storage capacity than current models, will go on sale Sept. 25 in North America at $249 for 250 gigabytes of storage and $299 for 500 gigabytes, the company said today. Sony will also start the “PlayStation Mobile” service, through which users can download games on their smartphones and tablet computers, on Oct. 3, Andrew House, head of the games business, said in Tokyo.
The games unit is among the focus areas listed this year by Kazuo Hirai, 51, who became Sony’s chief executive officer in April and started reforming the unprofitable television operation and cutting 10,000 jobs. The Tokyo-based company is trying to return to profit following four straight annual losses after the yen gained, the global economy slowed and consumers switched to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. devices.
“Sony is probably trying to lure consumers with the new model after Nintendo released its Wii U,” said Takashi Oka, a Tokyo-based analyst at TIW Inc. “Still, game-console markets have matured in developed nations and it may be hard to stimulate demand just by making it smaller.”
The Wii U, Nintendo Co.’s latest console, will go on sale in the U.S. Nov. 18, priced from $300, the Osaka-based company said Sept. 13. Nintendo, the world’s biggest maker of video-game machines, said it will introduce new titles for the player, such as “Super Mario” and “Call of Duty.”
The smaller PS3 will make its debut in Europe on Sept. 28 and in Japan on Oct. 4, Sony said.
The game-console industry faces competition from titles played online and on smartphones from companies including Apple, whose latest iPhone 5 is scheduled to reach stores in the U.S. this week.
Sony is also offering titles for Android-powered devices to extend its reach beyond users of game consoles. Its “PlayStation Mobile” Android service, renamed in June from “PlayStation Suite,” will be available next month in nine nations including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia and Japan, Sony said today. The service allows users to download and play titles made by Sony and third-party developers, it said.
Makers of devices that allow the service include HTC Corp., Asustek Computer Inc., Sharp Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., said Satoshi Nakajima, a spokesman for Sony’s games unit.
Sony also said it will cut the price for its PlayStation Portable players, by 18 percent to 13,800 yen ($175), from tomorrow in Japan.
Sony is preparing to offer new cloud-based gaming services, House said today. He didn’t elaborate.
The company agreed in July to acquire Gaikai Inc., a U.S. gaming-platform company, for about $380 million. The transaction was completed Aug. 10, Nakajima said.
Sony, which bought out a mobile-phone venture from Ericsson AB for 1.05 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in February, plans to draw on its skills in games to develop new smartphones and tablet computers, Kunimasa Suzuki, an executive vice president overseeing mobile products, said earlier this month.
Last month, the Japanese electronics maker cut its full- year sales target for handheld game players, including the PS Vita, to 12 million units from 16 million predicted three months earlier. The company also lowered its target for TVs, compact cameras and PCs.
The operating loss, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, at Sony’s game unit was 3.5 billion yen in the three months ended June 30, compared with an income of 4.1 billion yen a year earlier, the company said in August.
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