PS3 close to catching Xbox 360

Sony’s PlayStation 3 is now within 1.3m unit sales of catching the Xbox 360.

The latest financial numbers from Sony say that the console has now sold 56m units. Microsoft numbers in October said that it has sold 57.3m Xbox 360 consoles worldwide.

That PS3 has nearly closed the gap is testament to Sony’s success in reversing the machine’s fortunes.

Launching almost exactly a year after Xbox 360 (16 months later in Europe), the PS3’s early days were characterised by lower than expected sales, a seemingly lack-lustre feature set and digital offering and inferior ports of multiplatform titles.

However, in typical Sony style the launch of PS3 was just the beginning of the project. A steady stream of additions and tweaks to its digital features soon brought it in line with Xbox 360, while developers who were initially baffled by PS3’s obscure architecture began to get their head around its design, leading to some staggering graphical achievements.

None of which was anywhere near as important as Sony’s redesign and accompanying price cut for the console – that was the moment its fortunes dramatically changed, and it has been on an upward curve ever since.

Though North America remains a difficult region for PS3 owing to its very strong adoption rates for Xbox 360, PS3 sales have remained strong in Japan and continue to grow in European and emerging markets.

For the quarter ending September 30th Sony sold 3.7m PS3 consoles – up from the 3.5m units sold in the same period in 2010. An additional 37.4m software units were sold.

PSP sales even managed to grow, too, hitting 1.7m units though software unit sales fell 2.9m units to 8m.

Overall Sony figures showed a 27bn loss for the period. Sony said the strength of the Yen and poor TV sales were to blame.

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