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PS3 blow for Sony as target is missed

Sony Japan behind schedule on one millionth PS3

Shipments of Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console reached 1 million units in Japan today, the company said. That's just over two weeks behind Sony's original launch plan, which envisaged hitting the million mark before the end of 2006.

Problems with production of the PS3 led to the shortfall, but those problems have now been solved, said Satoshi Fukuoka, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo.

He didn't divulge the problems but Sony had earlier scaled back the launch of the PS3 because it couldn't produce enough blue lasers for the console's Blu-ray Disc drive. The company remains behind its second target of hitting 6 million shipments worldwide by the end of March, he said.

The PlayStation 3 was launched in Japan on November 11 and became available in North America, Hong Kong and Taiwan on November 17. It's scheduled to launch in Europe before the end of March.

Last week Sony said shipments of the console in North America had exceeded 1 million. The company had also planned to ship 1 million units in North America before the end of 2006 but didn't say when that point was reached.

Data from Media Create in Japan put PlayStation 3 sales at 527,462 units by January 7. The data measures units sold through retail outlets and is not comparable to Sony's shipment figures. Nonetheless the data provides a clue as to how shipments of the console are going for Sony.

After managing to get over 80,000 units into retailers for the launch weekend, weekly sales slipped to a low of 31,436 in the last week of November. They have since risen to around twice that level, according to the data, indicating that Sony is shipping more consoles per week now than it was immediately after launch.

Despite the slow start the PlayStation 3 has been able to beat the two previous PlayStation consoles to the 2 million units shipped mark. That point was passed about two months after launch (Sony didn't say on which day) versus about two and a half months for the PlayStation 2 and more than six months for the PlayStation.

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