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Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Sony PSP selling for twice the Japanese retail price on eBay

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Kaz Hirai, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, left, shows the new Sony PlayStation Portable to rap artist Xzibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas as part of the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Sony Corp's PlayStation Portable game player is selling for almost double its Japanese retail price on eBay Inc's online auction site as some gamers vie to be among the first to own the hand-held device.

A buyer in Mexico bought a PSP value pack, which includes the player, battery case, AC adaptor and a game for US$465, according to a posting on eBay's Web site. In Japan, where Sony has struggled to meet demand, retailers charge the equivalent of US$280 for the same combination. Sellers on eBay are asking as much as US$600.

The auction prices may be an early sign of demand for the game device, which also plays music and video, three months ahead of its planned US debut. Stores in Japan ran out of PSP stocks hours after the product's debut on Dec. 12.

"It looks good. The multimedia functions are an interesting aspect," said P.J. McNealy, an analyst at San Francisco-based American Technology Research, who saw the PSP at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.

Sony shipped 510,000 of the black and silver consoles as of Dec. 31, beating its target by 10,000 units.

The company will sell the device for less than US$200 when it goes on sale around the end of March in the US, said Howard Stringer, the chairman of Sony's US unit.

The black and silver PlayStation Portable console that went on sale in Japan on Dec. 12 for ?19,800 (US$190) will reach US stores "toward the end of March," Stringer said in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The price pits Tokyo-based Sony, the world's second-largest consumer electronics maker, against rival Nintendo Co, which started selling its new DS portable game player for US$150 on Nov. 21 in the US.

Nintendo's device was released ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

Nintendo has said it shipped 2.8 million of its Nintendo DS dual-screen console as of Dec. 31 after it debuted in the US on Nov. 21 and in Japan on Dec. 2.

Sony will need to increase its supply to challenge Nintendo's 95-percent share of the US$4 billion hand-held game market, McNealy said.

"There's still a lot of work to do before they can meet market demand," McNealy said. "There's always someone with cash to burn who wants the latest and greatest."

PSP games range in price from ?2,500 (US$24) to ?4,800 (US$46), although not many have yet been released for the platform.

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