Console yourself

Sony aims to sell its one millionth PlayStation by March

Tags: Sony Corporation
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Console yourself As president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Andrew House is in charge of 99 different territories.
By  Shane McGinley Published  February 8, 2011

As president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Andrew House’s remit for the Japanese entertainment giant means he is in charge of 99 different territories, spanning Europe, Africa, Australasia and the Middle East.

As a result, he travels a lot and regularly misses his favourite TV shows. However, he rarely gets the chance to catch up with the programmes he has set to record as his 15-year old daughter monopolises the PlayStation, and is constantly online playing games with her worldwide community of friends. With Sony having set an annual target to sell fifteen million PlayStation 3 consoles by the end of March 2011, House isn’t complaining too much.

He says his team aims to achieve the target set by Sony by repackaging the games console from a niche entertainment medium - dominated by kids and played in their bedrooms - into a mainstream entertainment unit used by the whole family and positioned centre of stage in the living room.

“That is very exciting and our goal is to establish PlayStation as the defacto standard for people who are starting to embrace this form of entertainment and cement the brand’s strength,” he says.

Before he took over management of nearly 100 territories, House was previously Sony’s chief marketing officer in the US and it is obvious that he has been media trained to within an inch of his life. That said, in between the corporate jargon and American business speak it is obvious that he is confident the Middle East will be contributing a healthy share of Sony’s expected sales.

“We already have tremendous share in the Middle East. We are in a very strong position competitively. We are able to work in conjunction with our parent company, which has long historic ties in the region. We are able to piggyback on the strength of that infrastructure and brand presence.”

In fact, it appears that Sony is the big fish in the Gulf and is the one which its rivals are eager to overthrow. It currently holds a stake of around 60% of the games console market in the Gulf and PlayStation 3 has conquered half of the ‘next generation’ sector, with the remainder divided up between Microsoft’s Xbox console and Nintendo’s Wii.

In Saudi Arabia the stake is even higher with Sony owning an estimated 75 percent share of the overall market. House doesn’t reveal how big the Middle East market is for Sony on a global level, only going as far as to describe it as “significant and growing”.

His colleague Tim Stokes - the sales and marketing director of the PlayStation Division of Sony Gulf - has equally ambitious targets set his team: “Close to a million units by the end of March 2011 since the launch in March 2007.”

Despite the recession, Sony achieved 30% growth in the Middle East last year and House says it will “certainly strive for the same growth year-on-year.” So we can expect another 30% I ask? “I would hope so,” he says, giving little away.

One of the catalysts behind PlayStation 3’s success has been the high demand for the new Move motion controller, which was launched in September 2010. In the first two months that the controller was on sale, Sony reported that sales had far exceeded expectations and had hit 4.1 million worldwide, 1.5 million of which were in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“The initial sales response has been so far in excess of our initial plan that we’ll probably be looking at accelerating production,” says House. However, Microsoft is hot on Sony’s heels and launched a similar controller-free device called Kinect, which has proved to be just as popular and sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide in its first 25 days on sale.

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