Sony has announced that it has shifted over 5 million PS3 consoles since its launch in Europe last year.

Admitting that the first year had been a "difficult year" for the console. SCE president Kaz Hirai said told journalists that the troubles that dogged them were now far behind them.

The figure accounts for almost half of the 10.5 million units sold worldwide.

The news, announced on at the company's PlayStation Day in London's O2 Arena, means that Sony has sold as many as consoles as Microsoft's Xbox 360 in half the time.

However Sony failed to mention in its presentation to a packed Indigo arena how the console was fairing against the Nintendo Wii in Europe, which has sold over 25m worldwide.

Sony also announced that it had sold more than 12 million PSP handheld console to date, and a whopping 48 million PS2 units since its launch.

The company say that the number of PS3 sold matches the performance of the PS2 even though the unit is comparatively more expensive.