Queues over a thousand people long formed at some retailers in Japan yesterday as Sony's PlayStation Portable went on sale, with fears of a shortage realised as stocks sold out within hours at some major outlets.
News agency Bloomberg reports that around 1200 people queued up for a chance to buy a PSP at the Bic Camera electronics store in downtown Tokyo, with many queuing overnight.
The size of the queues may well have been related to Sony's exceptionally small initial shipment numbers, which saw just 200,000 units of the console being released for its launch day - compared to over half a million units of Nintendo's similarly priced Nintendo DS handheld, which was launched earlier this month.
Queues were especially large at retailers such as Bic Camera which did not take pre-orders for the hardware, with a spokesperson for the retailer telling Bloomberg that "it's the most people we've seen lined up for a game device in recent times."
According to market research firm Media Create, 171,963 units of the PlayStation Portable were sold yesterday in Japan; taking exports and untracked sales into account, it seems likely that practically all of the initial allocation has been sold out.
Sony hopes to ship additional units to Japanese retailers on an ongoing basis between now and the New Year, bringing final numbers to around 500,000 units by the end of the year.
Exporters have been quick to cash in on the difficulty faced by most customers in getting hold of PlayStation Portable hardware, with many charging more than three times the retail value of the console to ship units outside Japan.