29 March, 2007

I am going to Umrah

I'm leaving tomorrow morning, heading for the holy city of Mecca to do an Umrah. It was a surpreise decision. It's been years since I went there last. Wish me luck, I'll be back on Sunday god willing.

28 March, 2007

Nintendo refutes Wii hoarding.

Nintendo refuted Gamestop's claim that they were intentionally holding Wiis. GameStop's COO, Dan DeMatteo, said that he believes Nintendo
“intentionally dried up their supply because they made their numbers for the year”
with the Nintendo Wii.
In English: He claims that they had a target for this fiscal year (ends March), and instead of selling more Wiis, they thought of holding the systems to contribute to thier new sales target starting April.

Not true says Nintendo’s George Harrison, senior VP of marketing and corporate communications. As "Next Generation" reported, he said
“No, that’s not at all the case. We have worldwide territories that are all competing over the available production. The Japan and European markets are doing extremely well with the Wii. People in Japan at NCL [Nintendo Co. Ltd.] are making the best decisions that they can about which products get shipped to which market and when.”

While Gamestop's claim is a typical and possible conspiracy theory, Nintendo's claim is believable, as it coincides with my sales analysis.

Let me take this as an example to compare between Nintendo's PR & Sony's. Just recently Sony continued its appalling PR activities. In contrast, Nintendo dealt with this very wisely, in the next response, Nintendo justified what many would think is an unjust accusation by Gamestop:

“Every retailer would want to have more [Wiis]. I think [DeMatteo’s comments] may have been GameStop’s way of trying to request more”

He succeeded in defending Nintendo, while making both Nintendo and Gamestop look like companies who care for thier customers. Textbook. Sony should hire him.

26 March, 2007

Nextgen Sales: A closer look

Total sales figures will not give me the clear picture I need to forecast this war. Sadly the nexgenwars.com tracker does not give you that detail. Fortunately, videogame charts do! Lets see..

Sold 9.66 mil according to vg and 10.84 according to ngw. Lets see the figures; The bulk of the sales is in the US (almost 6 mil). Hmm.., expected as much. 3.4 mil is in the other region which includes Europe, Middle East and Australia. However Japan sold 380K ONLY?
That's not even close to half a million! From 10 million systems, The Japanese bought less than half a million?
No wonder it lacks Japanese 3rd party developers. Microsoft still finds this place tough huh? They are trying though, so this could change. But I really think the Japanese sales figures must rise in order to gain momentum.

Sold 6 mil according to vg, 5.21 mil according to ngw.
The Wii sales are more or less even in all regions. Almost 2 mil in Japan, 2.3 in USA & 1.68 elsewhere. Its close to a 2 million average across markets. That tells me that unlike the X360 above, All markets are embracing the Wii. Also, the close sales numbers suggest that supply is constant through out the markets (ie: no shortage in one place and surplus in another). The Wii sales growth is the fastest of the three. This even distribution should attract developers from all regions, I expect good diversity in games should this trend continues.

Sold 2.67 according to vg, 1.77 according to ngw. ...
Wait a minute! That's one heck of an error margin! The difference in figures cannot be almost one million units! I know the X360 figures are off by as many but percentage wise, the error margin is huge for the PS3 figures.
Moving on, we will use the vg figures here of course for now. PS3's biggest market is the USA. 1.32 mil. Japan has only 0.83 mil and everyone else bough about 0.52 mil.
That makes sense. The PS3 enjoyed immense demand at launch in the US. Other parts of the world are slow, exactly as the reports from UK, Europe & Australia say (It is still not available in the Middle East despite Sony treating it a part of Europe). The 830k units in Japan is way too little. I understand the Japanese developer's concern now.

What to make of this?
The Xbox 360 is a solid contender. Proven everywhere, except in Japan where no foreign system was successful before. Still, that simply says that their system works but needs Japanese 3rd party support. The Japanese 3rd parties are not endorsing the Xbox360 fully yet as they expect a Japanese system to reign, and are looking at PS3, which continues to disappoint most, leading to slower Japan sales, making the 3rd parties wait until the fog clears (or MGS or FF get released).
The Wii seems comfortable. I expect it to receive proper support in the near future. Its comfortable for the fact that it can coexist with either PS3 or X360. Either it will be the system of choice (for the big budget games), or, if the title goes to Sony or MS, Wii can easily transform into the casual gamer / family game machine which will compliment any gamer.
  • Microsoft must focus on the Japanese market now. RPGs. RPGs. And they should steal more exclusives from Sony, like DMC & Ace Combat, and try to make exclusive PS3 games not exclusive which will tip the market to their favour. Oh, and release cute special edition consoles like they did with Blue Dragon. The Japanese will eat it up!
  • Sony needs to prove to 3rd parties that it still owns the market. They should lower and unify the prices worldwide (or make them closer) and release bundled systems with a big name game. They cannot lower the price now without risking watering down the brand as it will be like admitting it's not gaining sales because it's too expensive. Still, I'd rather they do this + the big budget exclusive + a strong Internet support that at least match or come close to XBLive.
  • Wii is under alot of demand, shortages will occur. Nintendo needs to address this asap. Once they do, they must immediately release a big budget name (like Mario Galaxy) and offer bundled packages (imagine Wii + Mario + wii sports or wii play). The market will be theirs if they do this. Especially if it happens before MS or Sony do what I suggested above.
Conclusion: War ain't over folks. Some are leading the race, some trailing, but it ain't over yet.

Sony: Americans are cheap. The British cost more.

Ray Maguire (Sony UK managing director) says in a response to the question: "Why is the PlayStation 3 more expensive in the UK than it is in the rest of Europe?":

"If you take what's considered to be the most expensive and the least expensive – consider the US with its massive land and cheap people. Then you look at the UK – a little island where rent and rates are at an absolute
premium, and the cost of people is a lot more."
OK.. lets assume for a moment that I have no PR experience, and that I'm a total Nintendo fanboy with an IQ that's slightly higher than my shoe size. I know nothing about anything, OK? YOU tell me. Does that statement seem right to you?

I know what he's trying to say, but for goodness sake, people will eat you up for that. You don't need any more negative publicity.

Despite the public annoyance with the 425GBP price (around $850 retail), I originally thought that they intended to offer a lower price similar to the American price but couldn't. I may have been sympathetic there. I was way wrong:

-But GBP 425 seems like an odd number. Did you think about pricing the PS3 at
GBP 399 which would have a different feel to it, psychologically?
No. We
did consider GBP 429, but we wanted to get the best for the consumer.

oh.. I see. you planned on getting MORE money, but you gave people a 4 pound discount. Gee, we don't know how to thank you.

Since launch the only good things I wrote about Sony was "HOME" and the other was the free HD TVs for London. I really need more positive news!

24 March, 2007

Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold

One day, Nike will stop producing sports equipments and focus on thier core business: Sports ads.!

Mud storm: Aftermath

Right, this sudden mudstorm did some damage.
I surveyd the house and saw:

Broken branches

Blown away leaves

Blown down Satellite Dish (fell from the roof)

our neighbours too sufferd fom Broken Branches Syndrome

and my last pic:

The Aluminum shade in the building where I just rented an Apartment in collapsed. I don't think any cars were underneath or they would'ave been smashed. It's a good thing I haven't moved there yet.

I saw more damages on the streets, ripped out trees, falling signs and such. If you got pictures send them in. I'll post them right here.

I hope everyone is OK.

Update (2:20PM)

More pictures of Damage

23 March, 2007

Australian PS3 Launch Embarrassment

At midnight, about 40 PS3 buyers had arrived to collect their consoles, causing distress for the army of camera crews who turned up expecting to capture launch mayhem, while a team from 2Day FM let out bogus cheers to convince their radio listeners that a launch extravaganza was underway.

read more | digg story

Sony gives 46" HDTV to everyone in PlayStation 3 line in London!

PlayStation 3 launched in Europe just a short while ago but some got a bigger surprise than others. At the console's official launch event in Virgin Megastores, Oxford Street, London, every console buyer netted a FREE 46" Sony Bravia LCD HDTV. Some might say Sony are finally showing Europe some love...

read more | digg story

22 March, 2007

Bahrain's sudden storm

Its awfully windy all of a sudden. Ironic that it catches us by surprise since my father is a meteorologist. He hardly ever warns us for some reason.
Anyway, imagine the combination of rain and dust. Yes, its a MUD storm. I hear things toppling over. Will survey the damages tomorrow.

Its getting hot in here.

Wii sold over 5 Million units

According to the very accurate next gen wars meter I have on the right between those amazing adverts that you should click sometime (ahem), the Wii has surpassed its 5 Million units mark. That's about... 208,000 units per week, 29,700 per day (loose calculations).

on the other side, the PS3 didn't move up much, it climbed from 1.5 mil to 1.6

that's around 66,000 units per week and 9,500 units per day (all numbers are world wide). Wii is selling in a week what Sony needs more than 3 weeks to sell.

No one wants a PS3 anymore!

fozi999 took this picture saying
"With a day until the PS3 launches in Europe the Newcastle Virgin Megastore
still has 72 left to pre-order. Is there any point?And I still can't get a
Wii. "
With a Pal system around $800, less HDTVs than the US, No games to desire or BD movies to own, seriously, why would you buy one?
Tell me people if I'm missing something here.

17 March, 2007

Gentelmen: Unzip your flys,AGAIN!

You all saw my post about the massive Sharp 108 inch LCD TV.
Well forget it.

I present to you, the Technovision 205 inch TV!
that is TWO HUNDRED AND FIVE inches large.
That screen is 15 feet by 8 feet. Enough room to PARK TWO MINI COOPERS ON IT.
The company is an Italian one specializing in outdoor displays, it just that... they built an indoor one this time.
Have a good look. You will never be rich enough to buy it or see it in real life.
I'll go weep in the corner as usual, thank you.

16 March, 2007

How to pimp in Bahrain

This is a page from "alwaqt" newspaper's classified page.
For the non Arabic speaker, it says: "Are you looking for your other half? Then callr" abu-ghayeb on *mobile number*"
What the hell is this?
Knowing how newspapers work, I am sure that they did not bother to take the time to see if this fellow is a legitimate licenced match making business. The person, could be, for all I know, a pimp or a pervert.
The mobile number isn't assuring, and the "name" isn't a name at all. Abu ghayeb is a nickname that is called on single people or ones who have no children yet.
So, our news papers could be trafficking prostitution? or paving ways to sexual crimes?
Alwaqt isn't the only one behind this, I saw a similar ad in alwaseet, not sure if this ran in other papers as well.
someone should address this.

15 March, 2007

I am an editor at ShoutWire.com

After a brief IRC interview chat with the founders, turnes out that I am an Editor at ShoutWire.com. Shout Wire is great for finding new and exciting stories. You can "Shout" the stories that you like. Have a look.

Sony Fights Back: Home

Sony introduced its new offering: Home.
Just watch the trailer and you'll get a good idea of what it is. Its like "the Sims" only each person you meet is an actual PS3 user. In a nut shell, meet and chat to others and start online games with them.
It has been compared to Nintendo's "Mii" system and to "Second life". The service is free and looks quite good really. This is however is NOT a life saver in my opinion. While a step in the right direction, it is still just a large chat and meet programme. The PS3 needs to pick up the pace a little bit.

07 March, 2007

Milan Matchala spotted at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain

Today, at 11:33 AM, as I was getting into the Ritz Carlton Hotel, I saw Milan Matchala, the famous (GCC wise at least) football coach get out of the hotel, and into the back of a beige BMW 7 series where he was chauffeured away.
Alwatan newspaper predicted that there are plans to recruit him to coach the Bahraini football team. True enough, he is here. However, Alwatan's headline today reads that he says he is here on a "Family Visit".
I would believe that save for the fact that he was chauffeured away. You do not get a BMW 7 series with its own chauffeur if it was a family visit. Someone provided him with that and my money goes to that he will be the next Bahrain coach.
I managed to grab a quick pick as he was pulling away, but it's not very clear. Sorry, my phone camera needs some time to be ready.
But at least, now you know!

Yossou N'Dour Tickets for Dadada-Dan Tenko

Alwaqt newspaper reported that all the tickets for the Spring of Culture events were SOLD OUT! And I thought "OMG! I didn't get the Dadada-Dan Tenko tickets yet!" I jumped in my Alty and scoured through Bahrain. All I found were tickets for Yossou N'Dour & the Chehadeh Brothers. I bought the first.
I'm disappointed. I didn't think it would be such a huge success like that! Well, at least I have two BD 15 tickets for the Senegalese singer for tomorrow night. I however would gladly exchange them for the Japanese drumming band. Anyone interested, please comment with your email. I'll even accept the BD 7 tickets now.
Either way, both shows promise to be great, and I'm glad I'm lucky enough to witness something at least.

06 March, 2007

Spring of Culture: Arad Fort Lighting

Yesterday, my wife and I went to see the lighting ceremony of Arad fort. It is to become the venue for allot of attractions throughout the month.

I arrived there, before 8PM. Went in and thought that everything was over, as it was pitch dark; (the event was to start at 6:30). Luckily it was just late. A good number of journalists, photographers, ambassadors and dignitaries were present. The ambiance was nice with my old School buddy Khalid Alshamlan playing on the grand piano.
I grabbed a cup of tea and stood to listen to two quick speeches, then *click*, the switch was flipped.

Light it did, but.. to be frank, I expected more. What with the word "ceremony" and all. Here, you can watch the video, but be warned, its boring as hell. I have better expectations for the rest of the events.

02 March, 2007

Bahrain in dust

Today Bahrain drowned in dust. Visibility was really poor. Here is a picture of Alfateh mosque, wher I prayed the friday prayer today. Feels like Silent Hill in here.