Sony on Thursday said it remained on track to roll out its PlayStation 3 game console by spring 2006 despite industry speculation that the scheduled launch could face delays.
The timing of the release of Sony's updated PlayStation console has become a matter of speculation in the $25 billion video game industry and among the studios, hardware makers and other companies looking to handicap the battle over next-generation DVD technology.
A spokesman for Sony said it was still targeting a spring 2006 launch for the PS3, which is key to maintaining its lead in the game console market against Microsoft, which recently launched its competing Xbox 360 console.
Larry Probst, chief executive of the No. 1 video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc., said last week that he believed Sony's console would not be available until fall 2006.
The PS3 also is central to Sony's push of Blu-ray, its next-generation DVD technology.
Billions of dollars are at stake in the DVD format war as movie studios and electronics makers gear up for a technology change they hope will send consumers back to buy new players and discs that will play high-definition pictures.
Many industry insiders have expected that splashy launch of Sony's PS3 console to give Blu-ray an edge and deliver a huge base of players for Hollywood studios looking to sell compatible DVDs.
A spokeswoman for the Blu-ray consortium said the group was still on track for a spring 2006 launch, indicating other manufacturers would be rolling out Blu-ray players at that time. "When Blu-ray launches next spring, there will be both hardware and content," she said.
Rival HD DVD, which is supported by Microsoft and Toshiba, is planning to roll out hardware and software in the spring 2006. Any delay in the launch of PS3 would be seen as a plus for HD DVD.
Mark Knox, a spokesman for the HD DVD camp said: "It's not going to be much of a battle until both sides are actually on the field and we have a sneaking suspicion that that won't be for quite a while."