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Sony Europe unapologetic over PSP hardware delay

And it's chasing eBayers.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president David Reeves has told the ELSPA International Games Summit in London that he has "no apologies" for the fact that the company's hardware always launches last in Europe.

In a keynote address which focused heavily on the challenges facing Sony in Europe in the current generation, rather than on the firm's plans for the PlayStation 3, Reeves discussed both the late introduction of consoles and the regular shortages of hardware in the territory.

On the topic of the late launches, Reeves was unrepentant - saying that despite the constant criticism of the company, which will launch PSP in Europe in September nine months after the Japanese launch, in fact, "we like this - we don't want to go first."

He argued that the delay to launching the hardware in Europe meant that more of the bugs and issues could be ironed out, thus heavily reducing the company's return rate.

"Consequently, we have a very, very low return rate," he commented, "less than 2 per cent."

He also pointed out that late launches improve the selection of software available at launch, and claimed that the PSP will have "30 titles, and maybe 25 movies" when it arrives in this territory.

Reeves also pointed out that a number of major issues exist which delay the localisation of consoles for Europe, including the wide range of languages, safety compliance requirements, differing hardware standards and custom regulations.

Speaking about the question of parallel importing - a hot topic at the moment since Sony issued cease and desist orders to a large number of retailers who have been selling import PSPs in the UK - he described the problem as "really small beer."

However, he did reveal that as well as attempting to halt sales of PSP hardware through traditional and online retailers, Sony is also currently pursuing individuals and companies who are selling the consoles on eBay.

"We've written over 600 letters to major importers on eBay," he confirmed.

Regarding last year's hardware shortages, which seriously affected sales of the PS2 in the run-up to Christmas, Reeves explained that Sony has to order its consoles for the holiday season six to seven months ahead of time - and that is will continue to be cautious about the possibility of overstocking the channel.

"Companies go bankrupt with too much stock - even companies like Sony," he commented, "but never with too little. We will continue to be cautious... But we will do whatever we can [for retailers]. It costs UKP 8 to airfreight a PS2 to Europe - we airfreighted three million of them in last year, and we'll do that again if we have to."