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NPD Numbers Are Incomplete

  Many of you may have seen yesterday's NPD hardware numbers for the PS3. According to the numbers, the PS3 sold roughly 690k units in the holiday season. So after Sony announced 1M units shipped, the NPD number came off very surprising, as many were expecting actual sold numbers to be close to 900k units. So what happened to the 300k units?

   Behind the chaos and the arm-flailing, there are some notable, and very critical, oversights made when reporting these numbers: NPD doesn't count sales for Canada and Mexico - and they don't tally up Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Sam's Club numbers. Likewise, there may be a number of other regions in North America that NPD doesn't have access to, and there are definitely other smaller-scale retail stores that are missing from yesterday's (and November's) tallies.

   The rule of thumb is that Canada's sales are usually 10% of the sales in the US -- so factor in the 10% to 690k units sold, and you've got an additional 69k units sold in Canada. Mexico is an estimated 2% of US numbers, which translates to just around 14k units. And with that we're now up to 783,000 units sold to customers. But of course, our new figure still excludes an enormous chunk of sales from retailer Wal-Mart, in addition to Amazon.com and Sam's Club.

   That said, there are then mom-and-pop shops and smaller scaled retail stores, many of which weren't accounted for. After it's all said and done, it's very likely that the NPD numbers (and this goes for all hardware) are missing 150-200k in sales for the entire holiday season (November-December). So after our [unscientific] calculations are taken into account, the December numbers for the Wii and PS3 should look more like:

   Wii 750 K, Total: 1.25M

   PS3 650 K, Total: 875-900k

   I'd estimate that the PS3 sold just around 875-900k units for the year, and the Wii totaled 1.25M. As far as the other 100k units: some of them remain on shelves, but a lot of them remain held back at warehouses or stock rooms. Retailers were worried about depleting their stock too fast and not getting additional shipments for weeks.

   But at the start of the new year, Best Buy did put out thousands of PS3s for sale nationwide that they've had in storage since December -- and because these PS3s were put up for sale after sales gathering was collected for the December period, they weren't taken into account. Perhaps we should take these NPD numbers with a little less heart and keep in mind that the group doesn't cover 100% of sales -- more like 75-80%.

1/12/2007 Arnold Katayev

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