Strong seller

In a surprisingly positive report, US marketing research firm, Strategy Analytics, has predicted that Sony will sell a whopping 12.4 million PlayStation Vitas this year – as long as the system benefits from a small price drop at some point within the next 12 months.

The company believes that the PS Vita has the potential to rake in around $2.2bn in hardware sales this year, assuming the system retails at an average price of $180.

Senior analyst Jia Wu explained that the real importance of the PS Vita is its position within Sony’s wider range of entertainment devices.

He said:

The real value of the PlayStation Vita is its drive for content revenue growth and its strategic position in Sony's entertainment ecosystem. The PlayStation Store will have a vital role in selling games, videos and other content through its online access.

Crucially, the cross-platform availability of content will also boost Sony's position in competition with giants Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Sony can leverage its console gaming business, which Apple and Samsung do not have, to build its online content cloud.

Despite the popularity of Xbox 360, Microsoft lacks a serious portable console and mobile gaming device. So with PlayStation Vita, Sony further strengthens its brand, device competition and future content reach - even if the console hardware itself will not generate much profit.

Unsurprisingly, Wu sees smartphones as the Vita’s biggest barrier to success:

To survive the march of smartphone's entering the casual gaming space, Sony needs to achieve the holy grail of inventing innovative new gameplay whilst at the same time investing heavily in exclusive content.

Still, Strategy Analytics’ outlook is on the whole surprisingly optimistic, which is refreshing given the amount of doom and gloom surrounding the PS Vita outside of hardcore gaming circles. We think Sony would be delighted if the system managed to shift over 12 million units in its first year. It’s software sales that are going to be critical though – Sony needs to ensure that the PS Vita is an attractive and lucrative platform for publishers to invest resources in. Early indications are certainly good though.