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Current console adoption rate only now passing last cycle's, Pachter reports


Among the many fascinating (and not so fascinating) takeaways from Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter's recent and massive industry report are revelations about the current console adoption rate. As much as the Wii has seemingly penetrated previously untapped demographics (see grandma's now defunct bridge club) and ostensibly raised console adoption rates to new highs, the current generation is practically dead even with the last one when comparing the two generation's first four calendar years on the market. That is, from 2005 (when Xbox 360 launched in late November) through 2008, the current generation of consoles (Wii, PS3 and 360) combined for approximately 78 million unit sales, according to Wedbush Morgan estimates. Comparatively, from 2000 (the year PS2 launched) through 2003, the previous generation (GameCube, PS2 and Xbox) combined for 78–79 million unit sales. However, in this pivotal fifth year, Wedbush Morgan predicts the current adoption rate will begin to pull ahead of the previous rate.

By the end of 2009, Wedbush Morgan estimates that worldwide sales of current generation consoles will have reached a combined 115 million units, trumping actual combined sales of the previous generation at the end of 2004, which were just 104 million units. The disparity is slightly more pronounced when looking at US and European shipment figures, as Wedbush Morgan predicts 100 million current-gen consoles will have shipped in those regions by the end of this year, compared to only 88.5 million last-gen consoles shipped by the end of 2004. "This clearly indicates that the current cycle is far more robust than the last cycle, especially given the relatively high price points for the three major consoles," Pachter writes.

Stretching into more distant predictions, the current generation could continue to significantly outpace the previous one, reaching an estimated 186 million worldwide-installed base by the end of 2011. The last generation only managed a combined 138 million installed base by the end of the analogous 2006-year and is estimated to peak at roughly 157 million during its total life cycle. (Wedbush Morgan surmises that the percentage of console-owning households will grow from 52 to 60 percent from last generation to this one.) Pachter attributes the predicted, overall success of the current generation to "increased multimedia functionality" and the proposed absence of a next generation launching in 2010 or beyond. We suppose if this is to be the "last generation" it's best to go out on top, eh?

[Image based on photo by: Thomas Faivre-Duboz]

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