updated 10:25 pm EDT, Thu July 1, 2010
Nintendo and Sony still hurt by Apple
Both Nintendo and Sony are watching their handheld console sales enter a free fall possibly triggered by Apple, NPD data showed today. Nintendo sold 383,700 DS systems in the US during May, which was not only a steep drop from 440,800 in April but just half of the 700,000 units sold a year earlier. Sony fared worse as it sold just 59,400 units, down from 65,500 in April and far lower than 100,400 in May 2009.
TV-based consoles fared significantly better. The Xbox 360 had far better results in May even without the slim model. Along with sales of the game Red Dead Redemption, the overhauled console saw Microsoft ship 194,600 Xboxes. The figure was a high point as it was not only up from 185,400 the month before but an increase from 175,000 a year ago. Sony had mixed results as its 154,000 PS3s were down from 180,000 in April but up from 151,000 12 months before. Nintendo held on to its growth as it sold 334,000 Wiis, up both from April (277,200) and year-over-year (289,500).
NPD analysts didn't explain the steep decline in portable game system results, but both the DS and PSP have faced pressure both from their own designs and from outside, through Apple. Both systems have been without significant hardware or price updates and are still largely identical to their original versions released in 2004. Nintendo's 3DS isn't due to ship until late 2010 at the earliest, and the next-generation PSP is unofficially slated for 2011.
Apple's effect on game consoles hasn't always been quantifiable, but iOS games are now known to have drawn revenue share away from Nintendo and Sony even with far lower game prices. Unconfirmed leaks from within Nintendo have suggested it's now targeting Apple as a main threat as its sales volume and success as a game platform have made Sony irrelevant by comparison. iPhones and iPods have often had the advantage of both using more recent hardware and of fulfilling multiple roles well where the DS and PSP usually still leave owners wanting second devices.