Sony Corp. will use five times the number of U.S. demonstration booths to promote the PlayStation 3 as it did for the last console, part of a plan to keep users from defecting to Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox and Nintendo Co.'s Wii.
Sony, the world's largest maker of video-game consoles, will spend $30 million to put the consoles in 15,000 U.S. and Canadian kiosks during the holiday season, said Jack Tretton, co-chief operating officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America. The 2000 introduction of PlayStation 2, which dominated the last generation of game consoles, used 3,000 demo booths.
``Once the consumers get their hands on a PS3 and understand what's under the hood, I think price will not be a factor in the decision-making process,'' Tretton said in an interview.
Microsoft and Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo combined will sell four times as many consoles as Sony by year-end, partly because of the new PlayStation's $500 starting price and limited supplies, estimates analyst Evan Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon. Executives at Tokyo-based Sony will use the booths to convince gamers to wait.
The PlayStation 3's Cell processor, 40 times more powerful than the predecessor, allows game developers to give characters the ability to ``learn'' from experience and change their response to gamers' strategies, Tretton said.
The PlayStation 3 also contains a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player, giving the console the ability to double as a home- entertainment center, Tretton said.
U.S. depositary receipts of Sony rose 23 cents to $41.06 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and are little changed this year. One depositary receipt is equivalent to one ordinary Sony share.
Nintendo shares rose 840 yen to 23,400 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. They have gained 64 percent this year. Shares of Microsoft rose 25 cents to $27.20 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. They have gained 4 percent this year.
PlayStation 3 isn't expected to dominate sales the way the earlier model. Sony's share of the $20 billion game-console market may drop to 40 percent from 60 percent over the next five years, Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter said. PlayStation 3 will sell for as much as $600 in the U.S., compared with $300 and $400 for Xbox models and $250 for Wii.
``Consumers aren't sure whether or not they need this amount of technology,'' Wilson said. ``But they're sure $600 seems like a lot of money for a game console.''