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Sony Warns Of PS2 Shortages At Launch

Foster City, Calif. — Citing shortages of critical components, executives with Sony Computer Entertainment America told dealers to expect only half of the Playstation 2 game consoles they had anticipated for the platform’s October 26 launch.

The company disclosed it would only have 500,000 units, instead of the 1 million planned for on or around the North America launch date.

Further, the company reported supplies would continue to be lean through the holiday shopping season, although it will maintain weekly shipments to North America of 100,000 units from launch through the holidays.

“I don’t think everyone who wants one will get one” by Christmas, stated Jack Tretton, unit senior VP.

Sony, which assessed the overall impact as the equivalent of a month’s production delay, said shortages of a number of unnamed electronic components are now being addressed. Player shipments will continue to fall short of expectations until January or February.

Despite the setback, the Sony executives said the launch of Playstation 2 would be the largest ever for any consumer electronics product. Shipments of 1.3 million units are still expected for North America by the end of the year.

Over 20,000 retail outlets will carry the PS2 platform across the country, and original allocations were determined by each retailer’s size and sales performance.

However, the shortage “on day one will be pretty equally felt,” Tretton stated. “The actually reduction from 1 million to 500,000 will be dispersed equally, so each customer would receive about half of what they initially anticipated.”

He added, individual accounts would determine how to distribute their inventory allocations to the different regions of the country they serve, Sony said.

“You should be able to find [PS2 consoles] in virtually every market of the country, and while it might be in short supply, it will be out there in broad-based distribution from day one,” Tretton said.

Company executives refused to disclose how much of that initial inventory will be directed to its own Sony showrooms, where the company sells products to consumers, or to the new Sony Style e-commerce website, where Sony fulfills direct mail orders for consumers online.

Some 26 PS2 game titles will be available at launch, and up to 50 are expected by the end of the year, reflecting an increase in software availability from originally announced plans, the company said. The Playstation 2 console integrates the functions of a very high-quality game machine with a DVD-video player, CD player and TV-based Internet appliance. It also will play titles produced for the current Playstation 1 device.