Sony's PlayStation gaming console revolutionised its market in the late 1990s and early 2000s, demolishing the lead of long-established competitors Nintendo and Sega. For three or four years, Sony's computer entertainment division was also the unchallenged champion within the group as well, delivering substantial profits while other divisions struggled with poor performance. However the arrival of Microsoft's Xbox console marked the beginning of a temporary downturn for the business, and that was exacerbated by the launch of Nintendo's mighty Wii system. Production problems relating to Sony's Blu-Ray DVD technology further undermined the rollout of what should have been the company's strongest console to-date, the PS3. As a result, Sony's PlayStation business reported substantial losses in 2008 and 2009 and significant improvements took some time to materialise. However, PlayStation finally overtook Xbox as the top-selling console in 2010, and it has gradually extended its lead over all rivals. The PS4, launched in 2014, confirmed Sony's dominance. By 2015 it was selling almost twice as many units as its Microsoft-owned rival, and has continued to widen its lead. By Jan 2020, PlayStation had an estimated 68% share of the global console market, to Xbox's 31%. The console had around 103m active monthly users. PlayStation Plus is the console's subscription-based online community on which users can play against one another. It has around 45m paid-up members. However, a separate US TV streaming service, PlayStation Vue, was shuttered at the beginning of 2020 as a result of competition from rival OTT services. Increasingly, software development is becoming a key pillar of the business. The group owns around 14 separate production studios globally, generating content either exclusively for PlayStation or for the wider market. The Game & Network Service division is currently Sony's most profitable business, accounting for around a quarter of combined profits. Revenues hit a new high of just under approx $21bn for the year to Mar 2019, with operating income of approx $2.8bn. Those figures slipped back in ye 2020 to revenues of $18.1bn and operating income of $2.2bn, partly in anticipation of the release of PS5 at the end of 2020. Software and content add-ons accounted for more than half of total sales, hardware for just 19%, and network services for most of the rest. Jim Ryan became divisional CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2019, as well as Sony corporate EVP in charge of Game & Network Service. The total number of PS4 devices sold since launch hit 112.1m devices by June 2020, still well behind the all-time champ PlayStation 2 (at 158m) as well as Nintendo DS (155m) and Nintendo Game Boy (119m).
Capsule checked 17th February 2020
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Historical profile information for Sony PlayStation
Adbrands Daily Update 30th Oct 2019: With major players like Apple, Disney, AT&T and Comcast now piling into the streaming TV sector, four-year incumbent Sony has announced plans to exit the sector. It said it will shutter its Playstation Vue network, which allows customers to stream and record live TV or cable via Playstation consoles and other devices. That service, which launched in 2015, currently starts at $50 per month, whereas new arrivals Apple and Disney are priced at $5 and $7 respectively. "Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected," said Sony. The Vue service will shut down in January 2020.
Adbrands Social Media 25th Sep 2018: The new spot from Venables Bell & Partners for Playstation's online store could make use of that old Carlsberg catchphrase. "If Carlsberg made a software download service it would probably be the Best Software Download Service in the World". Or maybe that's not catchy enough. VB&P bring the full range of Playstation top-sellers to life, jostling one another for space in the console's virtual shopfront, all presided over by The Merchant, a character who has been appearing in the store's ads for the past couple of years in the person of actor Francis Magee.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Nov 2017: Ads Of The Week: "Rivalry". A break from Christmas ads, even if this one does still contain more than its fair share of seasonal snow. BBH New York has come up with a brilliantly entertaining spot to promote PlayStation's new Star Wars Battlefront II game. In most ads, when a pretty teenage girl moves into the house across the road, it usually signifies the beginning of a soppy adolescent love story. Not this time, because this kid is clearly far too in touch with her dark side. BBH has its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek throughout, which makes the mounting absurdity of the situation even more entertaining. Somewhere down the line, good and bad are clearly going to have to hook up together, but for now, let battle commence!
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Dec 2015: Sony's PS4 console widened its lead in the gaming market, with cumulative sales topping 30m units last month after two years on-sale. Though early sales were impacted by rivalry with Microsoft's Xbox One, the PS4 is now reported to be selling as many as twice the number of units as its rival. That puts it on course to match the record numbers achieved by its predecessor the PlayStation 2, introduced in 2000. Its sales topped 51m units in three years, and over 100m by 2005. "Rumours of the demise of the console have been greatly exaggerated," said Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House in an interview with the Financial Times. "We've just seen the most successful Black Friday in the company's history. We are now trying to benchmark [the PS4] against the success of the PlayStation 2 - or exceed it if possible."
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Nov 2015: Ads of the Week: "The Wonderful Life of a PS4 Player". Still looking for something for your Christmas stocking? The Chemical Brothers supply fine musical backing for 180 Amsterdam's cracking new spot for Sony PS4. If only the wonderful life of a PS4 player was really like this. Proof that there are some players who don't just sit in their rooms on their own for days on end fantasising about fast cars and awesome automatic weaponry. And some of them are even girls. Ah well, we can but dream...
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