The PSP Go has officially been on sale for about a week, and early signs suggest weaker than expected sales for the device. The good news is that the launch of the PSP Go was eclipsed by the massive success of Sony's new PS3 Slim (which managed to sell an astonishing one million units in just three weeks). However the bad news is that it will probably take the PSP Go significantly longer to reach one million units sold.
So far we have only anecdotal evidence to go by as we wait for more detailed hardware sales numbers at the end of the month. But among those retailers that have agreed to stock the PSP Go, sales do not appear to have been brisk after those customers who pre-ordered picked up their machines. Without a launch party to speak of or a much needed UMD transfer program, the device does not seem to have strong backing from Sony in North America. One retail store manager writes that 'so far this thing has been a colossal failure. Since launch we sold one (1) PSPgo. That's three days of sales and only one unit sold. We sold 20 DSi's the day it launched, for comparison.' Other accounts from stores around the United states have been similar.
American chart tracking publication VGChartz estimates that the PSP Go would around 30,000 units during its first week on sale in the United States. These are decent figures, but certainly nothing to get excited about when compared with the Nintendo DSi or the recent success of the PS3 Slim.
In the UK, Sony says that first-week sales of the PSP Go have been 'in line with expectations'. However those expectations have been cautiously tempered by Sony representatives in recent months. In a statement made October 4th, the company said that early sales of the PSP Go had doubled the normal volume of PSP hardware sales for that week. However, its flagship game Gran Turismo Portable failed to chart in the top 10 in the UK, coming in a disappointing #12 in that country for the week ended October 3rd. Chart Track, the company that follows software and hardware sales in Britain, has refused to release specific numbers on PSP Go hardware numbers.
It could be that many consumers are opting for the cheaper, more versatile PSP 3000. Sony PSP Product Manager Claire Backhouse told journalists that retailers are selling more of the cheaper 3000 units, at least for the foreseeable future. 'They see it as a way of getting people into the store because it's new interest, a new product. And they've had such strong sales as well of PSP 3000 almost off the back of it. If you bring out a new product, people aspire to that but they might not buy it, they might buy the PSP 3000 instead. Especially if they're part of a family - dad might buy the PSPgo but the kids might get PSP 3000s.'
Using a higher-priced model to sell more of an older cheaper model does not sound like a confident marketing plan to us. However, if Sony simply wants to test the waters with its new digital-only format, perhaps the company doesn't need to set the world on fire with the PSP Go.