Marked by celebrity-studded parties on both coasts and days-long tent-city encampments surrounding retail outlets in all states in between, Sony has officially launched its latest console, the PlayStation 3.
Sony's San Francisco Metreon and Manhattan's SonyStyle Store were the sites of the company's official midnight launches, with Sony Computer Entertainment executive vice president Jack Tretton handing one San Francisco gamer the first console on the west coast.
Sony Computer Entertainment America president Kaz Hirai and Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer were similarly on hand at the New York launch to hand over the first east coast consoles, with a surprise announcement that the first three people in line would be receiving their units for free.
For the rest of the nation, waits for the official midnight launch were marked with reports of camping consumers
encircling local retail outlets beginning as early as 11 days before the Friday launch, and tempers beginning to flare as midnight approached.
The launch was also not without reports of crime and violence. An Elk Grove, California GameStop was robbed at gunpoint
and forced to hand over four of the consoles, and three Springfield, Oregon campers were reportedly robbed as well
as they waited in line at a local Target for their own units.
As was expected, an influx of the units
has hit online auction-house eBay, with newly ending sales of the console fetching as high as $3000, and some sellers asking as high as $10,000 or more for an on-hand overnight-shipped sale. In an earlier report
, Lazard Capital Market's Colin Sebastian suggested eBay could become this holiday's #1 next-gen console retailer.
As yet there remains no indication of how many units were moved through the midnight launch efforts, and the larger question still remains precisely how many launch units had been shipped, with the most recent analysis from Lazard Capital revising downward
some original 400,000 estimates to as few as 150,000-200,000 units. Sony has said it continues to expect to ship two million units worldwide by the end of 2006.