Sony's (SNE - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) PlayStation 3 game console may finally be ready to break out.
Retail giants such as Best Buy (BBY - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) and Target (TGT - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr - Rating) are expected to feature the PS3 console in their weekly retailer advertisements starting this week in a move that could signal Sony has sorted out production problems with the next-generation device.
Sony had faced delays in the mass production of blue laser diodes, a component of its Blu-Ray hi-definition DVD player that is part of the PS3 console, which pushed the launch of the console in Europe to March 23.
The company launched the PS3 in North America on Nov. 17, but supply of the consoles has been tight.
Now PS3 supply levels are "stabilizing," says Dave Karraker, spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment America.
"We are seeing more units of PS3 in stores on a regular basis and not the extreme sellouts that were there soon after the console was introduced," says Karraker. "And with supply levels stabilizing, you can expect to see increased marketing for PS3."
Best Buy featured its first ad for the PS3 on Feb. 18, while Target is slated to put one out on Feb. 25.
On the matter of Sony's supply problem, that seems to have been solved since about the first week of January, which is when major retailers began reporting that they had PS3 units sitting on their shelves. As for the question of advertising circulars, the PS3 was being advertised in Best Buy and Circuit City circulars in my Sunday paper. I remember, because at the time I noted how silly these ads were since the supply of PS3s was so tight. (I believe--but can't be certain--that the PS3 appeared in at least the Best Buy circular during the Christmas season, as well, but my memory on that count may be faulty.) Perhaps Ganapati meant that this is the first ad Best Buy has featured for the PS3 in 2007?
There is a larger question about the strage angle of this story--namely why the piece is mostly positive even though Sony's raw sales data (which Ganapati mentions later in the piece) are so bad and the company is having a senior management shake-up in Europe just weeks before the launch of the PS3. But that's less important and is really a matter of perspective. Ganapati is certainly entitled to her analysis of the situation and she may be right that the PS3 is about to break out.