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Japan Begins PS3 Preorders

With a scant three weeks to go before the 11/11 Japanese launch of the PS3, Japanese retailers have finally started accepting preorders for the system. But of course, as soon as they begin, they're likely to end not long after, given the country is only getting 100,000 units for launch day (the U.S. is getting 400,000 and those preorders were gone in a matter of hours last week).

As we reported this afternoon, Amazon.co.jp began its preorder program tonight at 7 pm. Nikkei's IT Plus website states that the company sent out priority links to the system's pre-order page to customers who had asked in advance to be notified when the program kicked off. And of course, all available units were gone within only a few minutes of the start time.

Nikkei also reported that other online stores are preparing for the preorder blitz as well. Sony's PlayStation.com will start preorders at an unknown time in the future, but due to limited quantities, it will begin the program in secret and without prior notification to customers. Tsutaya Online, the Internet outlet of the popular Tsetuya media retailer, said it will start preorders "shortly," charging 49,980 yen for the 20GB model and 59,980 yen for the 60GB model.

The high price point appears to be the average going rate for the high-end PS3, which is set at "open" pricing for Japan. Amazon was charging about 3,000 yen more for the 60GB PS3.

One anonymous chain complained to Nikkei that users had somehow managed to gain access to early URLs for its PS3 sales pages. Those pages listed the 60GB model at several different prices, ranging from 79,800 yen to 69,800 yen. "In reality, it's expected to be a lot lower than that," said the company to Nikkei. Regular stores also vary widely in their preordering program status; from the time the program begins to how many units are immediately available.

Stores like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera and Sakuraya told IGN that due to unknown shipping quantities, they're not sure if they'll even take preorders. Bic and Yodobashi didn't take preorders for the PSP and DS Lite launches, so it wouldn't be too shocking to see these retail chains opt for public craziness come November 11, rather than do preorders here in October.

The number of 60GB and 20GB systems available appear to be about equal. One retailer was quoted as saying, "We were hoping to take shipment of the 60 Gig model at a ratio of 7 to 3. However, we ended up getting the same number of 60 Gig and 20 Gig models." But if you're one of the many unlucky consumers who fail to secure yourself a Japanese PS3, Tsutaya representatives commented to Nikkei that they expect a two week wait for a second shipment. That's not the end of the world, now is it?

10/16/2006 Ben Dutka

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