Sony promises 1 million PSPs

Electronics giant boosts production of handheld game player to make more units available for upcoming North American launch.

Shoppers will have 1 million PlayStation Portables to fight over when the handheld game player launches in North America March 24, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Sony Computer Entertainment America said in a statement that it is boosting shipments to ensure that 1 million PSPs will be available for early bird shoppers. The company previously had been vague on launch quantities, saying a million units would be in production by the end of the month.


That number still may not be enough, however, as some major retailers have already sold out of their initial shipments of PSP units through preorders. GameStop, for example, is now accepting "post-launch preorders," to be fulfilled as units become available.

Sony revealed plans for the PSP last year, positioning it as a potential breakthrough machine that would do for digital media what the Walkman did for analog music. The device includes built-in wireless networking, 3D graphics capability and a new 2GB optical media format that Sony will also use to distribute movies.

The PSP launched in Japan last December with a mere 200,000 units available, prompting many consumers to camp out in front of stores overnight to grab one of the elusive gadgets.

Sony finally set a North American date for the PSP last month, revealing that the player would be sold as part of a bundle that includes a copy of the movie "Spider-Man 2."

The PSP brings Sony into a tough market long dominated by Nintendo's GameBoy devices. Nintendo is looking to expand its lead with the new DS and advanced handheld game players with capabilities such as wireless networking and a touch-sensitive screen.

Nintendo launched the DS in North America in late November, and the gadget fast became the hot item of the holiday shopping season. The company quickly boosted already optimistic sales estimates to predict worldwide sales of 5 million units by March 31, the end of the company's fiscal year. Sony expects to have sold 3 million PSPs in the same time frame.

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