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Sony to ship 1m US PSPs

SCEA moves to reassure retailers over PSP stocks as launch date looms closer.

One million units of the PlayStation Portable console will be made available to US retail for the system's March 24th launch, Sony has confirmed, allaying industry fears that as few as half that number could ship in the launch window.

The company had previously said that it would manufacture a million units for the North American launch, but it hadn't been clear how many of those units would actually be on shelves, and how many would be stuck further back in the chain - in factories, warehouses or transit.

Some analysts had pegged the actual figure for available units as low as 400,000 to 500,000 units in the launch week - and many retailers were braced for the kind of serious shortages which Japanese retailers saw at the launch of the device in that territory, when only 200,000 units shipped on day one and restocks were slow to arrive.

Now Sony has announced that it will make good on its promise of a million units, clarifying that that number will actually be made available to retailers for the launch.

Although it hasn't explained how it intends to accomplish this feat, the situation has undoubtedly been helped by the delay of the PSP launch in both Europe and South Korea, with Sony now able to divert units from those markets to the North American supply chain.

Curiously, Sony still maintains that it will ship three million units of the PlayStation Portable by the end of its financial year on March 31st, despite the delay in Europe which will push the launch here back into the next financial year.

With a million units shipping in North America, Sony must be expecting to ship two million in Japan by the end of March - but the most recent figures seen by GamesIndustry.biz from leading Japanese market research firm Enterbrain, dating from mid-February, show that only 800,000 units of PSP hardware had sold through in that territory as of two weeks ago.

Sony claims to have shipped almost 1.2 million units in Japan, which implies that up to 400,000 units must be in the channel - leading one to wonder where, exactly, an additional 800,000 unit shipment to make up the firm's full-year target would go, or indeed come from, given the ongoing manufacturing difficulties facing the platform.

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.