Price cuts and new games may have helped Sony's beleaguered PlayStation 3 console to turn the corner, say analysts in Japan.
Sony Japan released a cheaper PS3 last week with a slightly restricted feature set, including a 40GB hard disk drive.
"Although Sony's game business has not been performing strongly, the first indications of the new lower-priced model's sales look likely to alleviate overly negative impressions of the business," said Nomura Securities analyst Eiichi Katayama.
Early sales figures for the cheaper PS3 are extremely encouraging, market watchers say. The cut price 40GB unit is currently selling for about $340 at online retailers based in Japan, compared to $466 for the older 60GB model.
"The PS3 [all models] sold 65,000 units during the second week of November, showing substantial growth from the 16,000 units during the first week," said Katayama. The sales exceeded forecasts by more than 50 per cent.
An eagerly-awaited new game for the PS3, Dynasty Warriors 6, sold 180,000 copies during the week, indicating that owners have not lost interest in the console, according to figures from local research firm Media Create.
An earlier Japanese weekly sales survey, also from Media Create, indicated that Microsoft's Xbox 360 outsold the PS3 in its home market of Japan for the first time two weeks ago, shortly before the new PS3 launched in the country.
The Xbox 360 saw a fivefold increase in weekly sales following the release of a popular new game, Ace Combat 6. Media Create recorded sales figures of 17,434 for the PS3, 17,673 for the Xbox 360 and 37,617 for Nintendo's Wii.
The PS3 has consistently been late to meet sales targets since its release, mainly due to its comparatively high price and lack of hit games. The console's lacklustre performance has been blamed for losses of almost $2bn at Sony's games division.
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