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Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Retailers get ready for US release of new PlayStation

AP AND BLOOMBERG

First Star Wars movies, then Harry Potter books. Now, Sony Corp's new PlayStation Portable is getting the midnight-release treatment reserved for the most hyped of pop culture products.

What remains to be seen is whether the handheld entertainment system can live up to consumer expectations -- and whether Sony has manufactured enough to meet demand.

Sony said Wednesday it had stocked North American retailers with 1 million units for yesterday's launch. With gamers expected to line up in anticipation, many stores were planning midnight hours to get the units on sale at the first possible moment.

Sony hopes the sleek, portable system -- which allows users to play games, view movies and pictures and listen to digital audio -- will transcend the traditional young, male gaming demographic.

Both storefront and online retailers have taken pre-orders for the system since it was announced in September. And Sony has sold more than 1.2 million units in Japan since the system's launch there on Dec. 12.

"We will have 1 million units on store shelves starting tonight at midnight, and expect them to sell those units very quickly," said Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold. "We have additional supplies, even if the initial units are sold out on the first day."

By the middle of the year, the company plans to increase production to 2 million units per month.

Separately, Sony said it won't meet its target of achieving 10 percent operating profit margin by fiscal 2006.

"It's not feasible in the next two, three years, or during my first year, but we want to create a foundation so we can achieve it," said Ryoji Chubachi, the company's new president, in Tokyo.

"It's not possible" to attain the 10 percent target, which excludes the company's financial business, by the year ending March 2007, he said.

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