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Sony's Palm-based PDA, the Clié, managed to sell out during its first day on sale in Japan, proof if you need it, that anything with a Sony badge will just fly off the shelves, even if related products haven't proved too popular.

The target of Japanese consumers' interest is the colour version of the Clié, for which demand has been so high that retailers don't expect most customers to get their hands on the device for at least a month. Sony has been taking orders online since 21 August, but was forced to stop doing so on 2 September because of the sheer volume of requests for the new device.

That said, if buyers chose to satisfy themselves with a monochrome Clié, they can have one now, stores told Reuters.

''Orders turned out much better than our initial forecast,'' a Sony spokesman told the news agency.

Yeah, right. Sony has such a knack of pitching demand predictions just below the level consumer interest finally reaches, that it's pretty clear the company is holding back on supply to boost interest in the product. So this week demand for colour Cliés apparently outstrips supply just as demand for PlayStation 2s around the console's March debut outstripped Sony's claimed ability to send them out of the factory door.

It certainly isn't anything to do with global component shortages - Sony's spokesman said these would not affect Sony's production. Interestingly, he wouldn't say what Sony's sales predictions were or how they would change on the basis of Monday's debut. And if that doesn't convince you Sony had the whole thing mapped out beforehand, nothing will.

Palm, meanwhile, can't help but be pleased with the news. It has been trying to crack the Japanese PDA market for some time, having failed to achieve the level of success it's had in Europe and the US thanks to the strength of rivals Sharp and Casio in the Japan. Palm is working hard to persuade more Japanese consumers to buy into the Palm way of managing personal data, and Sony's success will go a very long way to helping it attain its goal of market leadership.

Japanese PDA shipments are set to exceed one million units by the end of the year, up from 600,000 units in 1999, according to the Gartner Group. It is set to hit two million units next year. ®

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