Sony keeps PSP production low, focuses on PS2

Electronics giant cautious in its approach to PSP.

Low initial shipment figures for Sony's forthcoming PlayStation Portable are down to a decision to focus on manufacturing the profitable PlayStation 2 hardware, according to a spokesperson for the Japanese giant.

Comments attributed to SCE spokesperson Kenichi Fukunaga in an Agence France-Presse article stated bluntly that manufacturing resources are being directed to the PlayStation 2 - a new slimline version of which was introduced earlier this month - rather than the PSP.

"We are entering a phase where we profit greatly from PlayStation 2," Fukunaga-san told the agency. "It was a matter of reaching the optimum allocation of our resources."

Only 200,000 units of the PlayStation Portable are expected to ship in Japan in time for the launch of the system on December 12th, with a further 300,000 anticipated by the end of the year.

According to Fukunaga-san, this is down to a cautious approach on the part of the company with regard to the PlayStation Portable - perhaps as a direct result of the firm's embarrassing failure with the much hyped PSX home media system last Christmas.

"We are being very careful about this project," he confirmed. "We did not want to have lots of PSPs on inventory."

This approach contrasts with Nintendo's bullish attitude to its latest handheld console, the Nintendo DS, which launched in the United States last week and is expected to sell five million units worldwide by the end of Nintendo's financial year in March 2005.

Much of Sony's caution may be as a direct result of the low price point for the PSP, with the firm thought to be taking a significant loss on each hardware unit sold. Indeed, Fukunaga-san confirmed that the PSP business is not expected to be profitable for several years - compared to the Nintendo DS business, which is actually expected to contribute positively to Nintendo's bottom line for FY 2005.

However, the low price point should be beneficial for the device, he believes. "At that price, software houses should be encouraged to create game titles," he commented. "Competitive pricing and software titles should push up sales in the short run."

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