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The first PlayStation 3s arrive

Sony pulled the first boxes of PS3s off trucks Thursday night

SAN FRANCISCO--If there were ever four more important yet banal words spoken in the PlayStation universe than the ones spoken by Sony Computer Entertainment of America executive Jack Tretton at just after 8 p.m. Thursday here, it's hard to imagine what they could have been.

"Here they are, guys," a triumphant-sounding Tretton shouted as he held the first PlayStation 3 from the first box off the first truck over his head. And the crowd--hundreds of PlayStation fans lined up on the sidewalk here--cheered, even as dozens of photographers and television camerapeople circled Tretton.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

Minutes before, to the sounds of many police sirens, several gleaming, jet-black SUVs had roared up to the Metreon here--the location of the West Coast PS3 launch--and in a scene that must have been somewhat reminiscent of the arrival of a head of state, a whole bunch of very, very burly security guys jumped out to "secure" the area.

Then, emerging from one of the SUVs, Tretton, the SCEA vice president and co-chief operating officer, stepped onto the street flanked by two gigantic security guys and walked over to the 18-wheeler that was waiting there.

The security guys opened the truck, pulled a box off of it, to the roar of the crowd, and Tretton cut it open.

The moment was exciting, yet something felt very false about it. After all, it's not like Tretton is anyone that would merit huge security personnel on a normal day.

On the other hand, come to think of it, it was probably the boxes of PS3s that the security were really there for.