Sony to double PlayStation 2 output

The company plans to produce 20 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles in the coming financial year, the period from April, said Ken Kutaragi, president of SCEI. This should come as good news for the many would-be buyers in the US and Europe that were unable to purchase the console in December, after production problems hit shipments. For the current year to March, SCEI expects to ship 9 million units, down from its original plan of 10 million.

SCEI is on target to meet this goal. Kutaragi said worldwide shipments of PlayStation 2 consoles as of 18 February were 8.2 million units, of which 4.38 million were shipped in Japan, 2.1 million in North America, and 1.68 million in Europe.

Kutaragi also outlined plans for the coming year.

Among these was the company's first application to link the PS2 with NTT DoCoMo's cellular telephones -- the product of a partnership announced last year between the two companies. The Check-i TV service will be launched in late April in Japan and is an attempt by SCEI to build an online community for PS2 users through services like interactive chat, movie and entertainment reviews and scheduling.

He also announced plans to begin developing broadband network systems with former console rival Sega (which recently announced it is pulling out of the hardware business) and entertainment software developer Namco. The tie-up will see broadband-connected PS2 terminals placed at Sega game arcades throughout Japan and linked together through a common network.

The company also unveiled plans to add copyright protection to its software disc. The new DNA-S (Dynamic Network Authentication System) technology will see a unique serial number embedded on every PS2 software disc that will combine with the console's current identification system to stamp out unauthorised copying.

Mariko Murakami of IDG Japan contributed to this story.

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