PSP on track for 6m US sales?

Somewhat confusing figures.

Sony Computer Entertainment America appears to have confirmed that the company is still on track to ship six million units of the PlayStation Portable console to retailers in North America by the end of the year.

Back in October, SCEA boss Kaz Hirai predicted that the firm would reach six million units by the start of 2006; at that point, Sony had recently announced hitting 4.47 million units shipped in North America, as part of 10 million units shipped worldwide.

However, there has been some confusion about whether Hirai was referring to installed base or shipments of consoles. SCEA generally refers to shipments rather than sell-through figures, but according to news agency Reuters, claimed to have sold three million PSPs by the beginning of November.

That figure is disputed by market information firm NPD, which pegs the sell-through figure for the PlayStation Portable by the end of the month at just 2.5 million units, just behind the Nintendo DS with 2.7 million units.

Speaking to Reuters this week, Sony spokesperson Molly Smith said that "we're mapping to that forecast... We're very comfortable with where we are," but did not clarify what, exactly, the forecast called for.

Given that 4.47 million units had been shipped by the beginning of November, shipping six million by the year-end seems reasonable; but at the other end of the spectrum, if only 2.5 million had sold through by the start of December, doubling the installed base in a month is rather less likely.

However, a corporate spokesperson for Sony in Europe this afternoon confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that there has been some confusion in the US media leading to incorrect stories regarding the comments made by Hirai and the US sales figures for PSP.

We were referred to the firm's statement on October 21st, when it hit the ten million shipments mark globally, as the most recent official comment on the status of PlayStation Portable in the marketplace.

In the absence of any further information about the situation, the logical assumption is that Hirai was indeed talking about shipments, not sell-through, as is standard Sony policy; and that NPD's figure of 2.5 million sales for the PSP in the USA by the end of November (plus, of course, a number of sales in Canada, bringing that figure to well over 3 million) is the fairest yardstick for the performance of the console in that market at present.

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