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Sony pledges to balance PS3 supply, demand by May

Growing supply... or falling demand?

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Sony has said PlayStation 3 production will match demand by the end of May, in North America at the very least.

Interviewed by the Reuters news agency, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief Jack Tretton said: "April or May is when we feel like we're going to catch up to demand and have product fully in stock across North America and stay there."

Tretton also said North America will have been shipped 2m PS3s by the end of March, a third of the 6m next-generation consoles Sony has been forecasting since September 2006 that it will ship worldwide by the end of next month, not coincidentally also the conclusion of the consumer electronics giant's fiscal year.

The question remains: will Sony meet demand by the end of May, or will demand fall to meet supply? Certainly, the PS3 has failed to sell in the volumes other consoles have. In the US in January, 244,000 PS3s were sold to 294,000 Xbox 360s and 436,000 Wiis.

Like the PS3, the Wii is new and has a relatively small selection of games, but it has a novel controller and is considerably cheaper than the Sony machine. The Xbox 360 is cheaper too, and has both an extensive games library and a vibrant online gaming scene. These advantages surely impede demand for the PS3, no matter how impressive its graphical horsepower.

The PS3 is due to ship in Europe and Australasia on 23 March in what's now known to be a less complete version of the hardware than the console that shipped in the US and Japan in November 2006. The changes will hinder the PS3's compatibility with old PS2 games, and while that might not bother folk who've finished all their PS2 titles, it's still something of a snub when you consider that Europe's only getting the 60GB 'premium' PS3.

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