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July 2001: Paul Smith... Isn't here to console you. Sorry.
Has the Playstation 2 fallen flat on its- um- flat bottom? The feeling I get is that it has. I didn't buy one, and I'm someone who's invested folding in every half-arsed/kick-arse console from the Dreamcast and Saturn back to the 3DO and the SNES. This is hint number one that all in not well with Sony's black magic box, or at least its current line-up of titles, no matter how alluring the DVD style packaging may be.
Another hint is the feedback I've had from friends, and no, I don't mean high-pitched shrieking. They rushed out like the lemmings they are (close friends, you see!) and bought one, and now it sits under the telly with a thin coat of dead human skin cells, used for DVD movies and occasional bouts of classic original PS game playing. In fact, to some it's been such a disappointment that they've got selling plans. Take a look at QXL or Ebay and you'll see that £200 in well-used notes is worth more to some folks than an under-used PS2, which doesn't bode well for any Sony inscribed boxes sitting on your shops shelves. Unless, that is, you like your hardware used and your software pre-owned, in which case it could be party time. Cloud/Silver-lining.
Sniff the price drop. Does it have the tangy-musky reek of fear? Have Sony watched with growing horror as a European sales graph in some glass edifice in Tokyo didn't follow a projected curve of in-home-entertainment-joy but instead peaked and dipped? You can bet Sony hasn't dropped the price out of the goodness of their little Japanese hearts. They've not reacted to a rival consoles launch or price drop. Nor have they decided to pass on savings they've made in the manufacturing process to make you and your customers happy. The only reason to make the pricing decision that they've made is because they want to sell some more machines, and that's because the thin red line on the graph says they've not sold enough.
The early adopters have already combed the Internet and adopted, while cautious people looking at house price to income ratios and tutting, like me, have decided to keep their dough rising in a nice warm bank account for now. Better safe than Sony, as you might pun mercilessly.
The Playstation 2 may yet get back on its feet for Christmas but only if it gets some must-have exclusive titles. If it doesn't, Microsoft's X-Box is going to come along, steal its Nike trainers and flush its head down a toilet.
In contrast, my final thought is about Nintendo. If they're the Super Mario Brothers, their family name must be Mario, right? While this isn't so bad for Luigi Mario, it can't be great for Mario Mario, can it?
Although Paul Smith works for Ingram Micro, the views expressed in this column are very much his personal ones.
465 eclectic words, Dale. Please let me know if you need some more.
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