Though the PlayStation Portable continues to sell briskly in Japan, with over 800,000 units sold at last count, some problems with the system are appearing as it enters wider circulation, according to Japanese broadsheet Nikkei Business. Specifically, nearly 5,000 units of Sony's new handheld have been returned to the manufacturer for repair, due to a property of the system's design that causes the leftmost face button to malfunction. Since the button is mere millimeters away from the screen, the system designers had to fit its pressure pad slightly off to the right rather than directly underneath the button, which can make the button stick in place.
Ken Kutaragi, original PlayStation creator and father of the brand, was surprisingly blunt in his comments on the issue, suggesting: "There may be people that complain about its usability, but that's something which users and game software developers will have to adapt to." He further dismissed claims that the location of the button is a flaw in the design by saying "The position of the buttons was something we were aiming for. It's not an error, but something we specifically strove to design that way. I think we've created the most beautiful thing in the world. Nobody picks holes in the blueprints of a world-famous architect."
So far, the Japanese paper estimates that 0.6 of the units sold have been returned for repair, which doesn't necessarily indicate the extent of the problem, as it's possible some users either chose not to return their hard-to-find systems or successfully repaired it themselves. Neither Kutaragi nor Nikkei Business mentioned other confirmed issues with the recently-launched hardware, such as the flaw that causes a PSP to eject UMD discs when "twisted", or the dead pixel reports common to newly launched portable systems.