For the second time in one week, the Grand Rapids Press runs a front page story promoting a product. This is the first time that we have seen a product hyped with two front page articles. Other than the degree of coverage provided, the style of the articles promoting the Sony PSP is similar to others we have seen. With both of these articles, local store managers are interviewed about how quickly the units are selling, customers are quoted saying how great the product is, and the reader is told where the product can be purchased. What we seldom see mentioned in these sort of articles, is how much money the producer is spending on promoting this product, how many press releases and promotional materials they have showered on these media outlets, and whether or not the retailers mentioned and quoted in the story are regular advertisers in the GR Press.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
By Troy Reimink
The Grand Rapids Press
Chris Stewart cracked under the pressure.
“When I came here, I had no intentions of buying this,” said Stewart, 26, of Grand Rapids, holding a new PlayStation Portable system.
“I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t need one.”
Stewart was one of about 30 people who bought the system earlier today during a midnight sale at the Knapp’s Corner Meijer.
Similar scenes are taking place across the country today, as electronics stores struggle to meet the demand for the eagerly anticipated system.
What remains to be seen is whether the handheld entertainment system can live up to consumer expectations — and whether Sony has manufactured enough to meet demand.
Sony said Wednesday it stocked North American retailers with 1 million units for today’s launch. In West Michigan, Meijer stores were unique in that they put the item on sale at midnight and did not take preorders, making the release a genuine free-for-all.
Well, not free, exactly.
At $250, Sony’s PlayStation Portable is being touted as the next big thing in handheld gaming, a market traditionally dominated by Nintendo, which released its portable DS system last year.
In addition to video games, the PSP is also able to play other electronic media, such as music and specially formatted movies. It also accommodates online networking.
The PSP Value Pack includes the gaming unit, stereo headphones, a 32-megabyte Memory Stick Duo, battery and charger, a wrist strap, a soft carrying case and a Universal Media Disc featuring the movie “Spider-Man 2.”
A library of about 17 games — down from the 24 originally promised — will be available at launch, with titles from developers Electronic Arts, Konami and others. Prices will be in the $40 range.
At 1 million units, the initial shipment to the United States (it has been available in Japan for months) is small for such a high-profile launch.
Daniel Warren, a Meijer product analyst for videogames, said the Knapp’s Corner store’s initial shipment of 39 systems likely would be sold out today.
“There are people who aren’t going to get one,” he said.
Because of the limited supply, those who didn’t order or buy a PSP early are probably out of luck, since the system will not be readily available for about three months, Warren said.
Several local stores, such as EB Games locations on the East Beltline and in Rivertown Crossings, took preorders and sold the system at midnight. Best Buy locations in the area opened at 8 a.m. to accommodate early shoppers.
But Peter McDaniel, 22, of Grand Rapids, couldn’t wait that long.
He came to the Meijer opening along with Stewart to get his hands on the system his friends had been excited about for a long time.
“There were some people who couldn’t sit still today,” he said.