When past isn’t prelude

The paradox in this Next Generation reference to a Dean Takahashi blogged interview with SCE’s Kaz Hirai is to hear representatives of two titans focusing on such a forward-looking industry look so far into the past. Hirai defends his E3 comments that the next generation begins when Sony says it does by noting that the PlayStation 2 beat the Dreamcast even though the latter launched first. Contrasted with that is a Steve Ballmer comment that the first console to reach 10 million units has wound up becoming the volume leader “in every other generation.”

There are doubtless still several tricks up the PlayStation 3’s sleeve, but recounting the Dreamcast victory shouldn’t be of much comfort. Sega had been trying to come back from the poor showing of the Saturn and simply lacked the war chest that Microsoft has; furthermore, price stratification in previous generations was not as pronounced as it is today. Besides, before the launch of the PlayStation 2, no company had ever dominated successive generations of consoles, so Sony should understand that precedents have their limitations.

On the other hand, the power of market share is more of an economic constant, and there’s no disputing that both Nintendo and Sony will have much catching up to do this fall; both have discussed selling 6 million consoles by 2007, but Microsoft will have some polished titles of their own in the channel this holiday season.

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