There's an interesting article at Next Generation today that takes a look at the implications of Sony failing to put a lot of PlayStation 3 consoles on the shelf come launch time. We all remember the dark Christmas '05 Xbox 360 Massacre; its depressing images of empty shelves and angry people in line still echo when we collectively close our eyes. The optimist in me hopes that Sony doesn't repeat this scenario, but the realist in me has seen the stampede of anxious gamers and knows what evil lurks in the hearts of desperate fans.
[Microsoft's] Peter Moore told us that, y'know it's a complicated thing launching a major piece of hardware that's made up of loads of different bits, all over the world. And we sympathize, really. But it's a bit like Asafa Powell telling us that sprinting is tough work; even so, we still expect you past the line in under ten seconds, pal. Hardware shortages at launch used to be something that companies talked up, in order to generate interest in their boxes. These days, the interest is already there. Shortages don't equal success; they equal bad planning.
As the article says, the gaming landscape has changed so much in the past few years. In the old days a shortage was almost "needed" to generate buzz about a new product. Things are different now though and the PS3 has a lot of buzz and demand behind it. My advice to Sony is to cut back on spending millions of dollars to promote a product that "everyone" wants and "everyone" knows is coming and instead spend that money on increased production. Get more PS3s into the hands of customers. That way "everyone" wins.