Saturday, November 18

PS3 in Debu in US

Thousands camped outside stores on Friday to be among the first US buyers of Sony Corp.'s new PlayStation 3 video game player, but violence marred the debut when one man was shot in a robbery attempt.

But in many cities, with hundreds of gamers waiting outside stores, the wait turned into a social event. Finger food was showered upon weary shoppers outside Sony's midtown Manhattan store, while thumping music blared. Some turned discarded bags of shredded office paper into billowy chairs and a lamp shade sheltered one man from the rain. Investors are closely watching the PS3 launch as a key test of Sony's grip on the $30 billion gaming industry, particularly as it faces rising competition from rivals at Microsoft and Nintendo. Sony is expected to rake in millions of dollars in revenue on Friday alone, with about 400,000 units expected to be available, one week after the initial launch in Japan.

Data on how many consoles had been sold was not immediately available. Depending on the hard drive, each PS3 sells for either $500 or $600 and Sony aims to make 1 million units available in the United States by the end of the year. On Friday, hundreds of new PS3 owners made their own profit by reselling their $600 machines on Internet auction site eBay. As of midday, 564 had sold for an average price of $2,711, and 2,037 more units were on offer, according to eBay Marketplace Research. Outlying bids reached $30,000. The video game shopping frenzy will be capped this weekend by the debut of Nintendo's much-anticipated Wii console on Sunday. Some industry watchers predict the lines outside stores could be bigger than those that formed for the PS3 launch.

Angel Paredes, who waited four days through rain storms in New York, was the first to buy a PS3 in the United States, and vowed he would not put it up for sale. Kamau Romero, 24, an educator, who was No. 3 on the line, was not so certain."It would take a lot to get it out of my hands, but it is possible. You never know," Romero said.

The PS3 buzz is a welcome break after a tough year for Sony, following a recall of nearly 10 million of its computer batteries, delays in the PS3 and a growing price war in the flat-screen TV market. Sony is expected to lose money at first on each PS3 sale. The unit can also be used to surf the Internet, download video and music and play movies with a Blu-ray high-definition disc drive. But high production costs have dragged Sony's game unit into a deep loss for the year through March. Experts suggest each PS3 could last 10 years and go a long way toward helping Sony stay atop the gaming market, as well as make Blu-ray the standard for next-generation DVDs.