Shipments of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc's (SCEI) PlayStation 2 games console passed the 100 million mark on Tuesday, the company said Wednesday.

The console was launched first in Japan in March 2000 as a successor to SCEI's PlayStation console. In reaching 100 million units shipped after five years and nine months, the PlayStation 2 beat the original PlayStation to the mark by almost four years, the company said in a statement.

North America has proved the largest market for the console to-date with shipments of 40.6 million units, SCEI said. In Europe, 37.1 million consoles have been shipped, and in Asia shipments totaled 22.2 million consoles as of Tuesday.

Sony is currently working on development of its next-generation console, the PlayStation 3. That's expected to be available from sometime in 2006 and should give a boost to declining shipments of SCEI's home consoles.

After hitting a high of 22.5 million units of both PlayStation and PlayStation 2 in fiscal 2002, the period from April 2002 to March 2003, the company saw combined shipments fall to 16.2 million in fiscal 2004 and is predicting they will be 14 million this fiscal year.

Shipments have been falling as penetration of the PlayStation 2 has increased, stronger competition has come from Microsoft with the launch of its Xbox 360 console and consumers have been anticipating the launch of the PlayStation 3.