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Sony PSP ship total hits 800,000

CE giant plans mobile phone add-on, UMD licences

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Sony has shipped 800,000 PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld consoles, the electronics giant said yesterday.

It also revealed it has submitted the PSP's Universal Media Disc (UMD) format for consideration as an international standard.

Speaking in Japan, Sony deputy president and computer entertainment division chief Ken Kutaragi said the number of PSP shipments wasn't small but nonetheless "not big enough a number for the current market".

He said he expects the company to ship 3m units by the end of March, when Sony's current fiscal year comes to a close. In part, it will meet that target by launching the PSP in Europe and the US, which it is expected to do in that month.

To achieve its goal, Sony "will be increasing our capacity from 1m per month to 2m per month", Kutaragi pledged. Come summer PSP output will grow to 3m units a month, "some crazy number", he forecast.

Kutaragi said Sony will allow other companies to incorporate UMD drives in their own machines. No great surprise, that. Sony has always said it's keen on content vendors offering music and movies on the 2.4in, 1.8GB UMD format, primarily to increase the appeal of the PSP itself.

Just as it did with MemoryStick, MiniDisc and other storage media it has invented, Sony was always going to allow others to hop on the UMD bandwagon, turning the format into a revenue generator in its own right as well as a subtle promotional tool for the PSP.

This time, however, it will restrict UMD's use as a games delivery mechanism to the PSP, opening only the format's music and movie storage profiles, Kutaragi said.

Whether the world actually needs yet another format, particularly with Flash drives reaching 2GB and beyond, is anyone's guess.

Kutaragi also suggested Sony might offer an add-on to the PSP that would allow the console to work as a mobile phone, in much the same way that Nokia's N-Gage console does. ®

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