Apparently the blue laser diode shortage that has delayed the PAL launch of the PS3 will also be affecting the North American and Japanese launches of the console. Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Ken Kutaragi told reporters that far fewer units will be available for the U.S. and Japanese launches, with the U.S. to be allocated 400,000 units, and Japan getting 100,000. As a result, Sony has now lowered its estimate of 4 million PS3s shipped by the end of 2006 to a more realistic 2 million.
Kaz mentioned this exact estimate reduction a couple of weeks ago in a Gamespot intervew (which was quickly retracted), so it appears as if the company has known about the production issues for a while. Thanks to these production issues, trying to bag a PS3 at the suggested retail price before Christmas is going to be game in and of itself.