Sony launched a frontal assault on Nintendo's domination of the portable game console market yesterday by kicking off Japan sales of its new PlayStation Portable (PSP), drawing huge lines in Tokyo.
About 660 people queued in front of a Biccamera electronics shop beginning late Saturday to buy a product that Sony was touting for its ability to play DVD-quality movies and CD-quality music, a store spokesman said.
Most customers paid ¥26,040 (US$248) for a package set that included the console, memory stick and earphones, the spokesman said.
"I came to buy a PSP because it was big news and I like the Ridge Racer series," said Takeshi Sugiyama, a 29-year-old office worker who had lined up at 7:30am after doing a night shift.
"The PSP can play scenes from television that I record and download to my personal computer. I can also listen to the music with the PSP," he said.
Another 1,500 to 2,000 people lined up in frosty weather outside Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo to buy the console billed as a hand-held version of the best-selling PlayStation series, news reports said.
The first man in line told public broadcaster NHK that he had been there since 11:30am on Saturday.
"I heard that there were not going to be many consoles shipped initially and thought it would be bad if I couldn't buy one," he said. "So I thought I would line up early."
Sony Corp's game unit, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, plan-ned to ship 200,000 units of the PSP for yesterday's launch, with another 300,000 by Jan. 1, said spokeswoman Nanako Kato.
The company will launch PSP sales in North America and Europe early next year, and aims to sell 3 million units globally by March.
Analysts have called Sony's foray into the portable game console market dominated by Nintendo Co an experiment that others will watch closely and perhaps follow.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told reporters on Thursday that his company was confident of fending off Sony's challenge after the successful launch of its Nintendo DS console last month.
The DS features a touch-sensitive double-screen and has been billed as a user-friendly device, particularly for children.
Iwata said Nintendo had boosted its shipment target by 800,000 to 2.8 million units by the end of this month as demand in the US and Japan outstripped supply.
Nintendo is aiming for 5 million unit sales globally by next March.
The DS began selling in North America last month and in Japan on Dec. 2 for ¥14,800 (US$145), and will go in sale in Europe by March.
Some customers however have bought both consoles. Yoichiro Ban, a 49-year-old office worker, queued from 7:00am to buy the PSP for his son, less than two weeks after buying a Nintendo DS.
"We buy whenever Sony and Nintendo release new products," he said.