Sales of the PlayStation 3 console during its first full week of availability in Japan were sharply lower than those during the two days immediately following its launch, according to estimates published this week.

During the seven days from November 13 to 19, there were 43,378 of the consoles sold in Japan compared with 88,400 sold on November 11 and 12, according to figures published by Enterbrain. The company publishes local gaming magazine Famitsu and its figures are generally regarded in the industry as reliable.

Another local market data supplier, Media Create, estimated sales in the first full week at 42,099 units and said they dropped further to 32,622 units in the week from November 20 to 27. Media Create earlier estimated launch weekend shipments were 81,693 units.

SCEI in Tokyo wouldn't comment on the estimates but said that it is continuously shipping new consoles to retailers in Japan and the US.

The sharply lower number of consoles sold is likely due to tight supply of the machines. Sony Computer Entertainment has faced problems procuring blue-laser diodes for the PlayStation 3's Blu-ray Disc drive and was forced to cut-back on launch plans. It had originally planned to have 2 million consoles in Japanese, North American and European retailers for launch week but this was reduced to 500,000 units and the European launch was pushed back to March 2007.

As a result the consoles have been in high demand and fetching premium prices on Internet auction sites.

Software sales for the PlayStation 3 have also got off to a slow start. Sales have been lower than expected in part because a large number of early buyers were getting the console to resell for a profit online. Enterbrain estimated that in Japan, less software than hardware was sold at launch, while in the US retailer Gamestop said an average of 1.5 games were sold with each console. In comparison the retailer reported average software sales for the Nintendo Wii were three titles per console.