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Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Sony Delays European PlayStation 3 Launch to March

Sony said on Wednesday it would delay the European launch of its PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console by about four months to March and cut its target for shipments this year by half.

Sony had planned to launch the new version of its blockbuster PlayStation console in November, setting the stage for a three-way showdown with Microsoft and Nintendo during the key holiday shopping season.

Ken Kutaragi, the head of Sony's game unit and known as the "father of the PlayStation", told reporters Sony would ship 2 million PS3 units this year, half a previously forecast 4 million, but would make up the lost ground to hit a target of 6 million consoles shipped by March.

Sony said it still planned to launch the PS3 on November 11 in Japan and on November 17 in the United States.

The game console is the widely awaited successor to the PlayStation 2, of which 100 million units have been sold since its launch in 2000.

Flagging potential problems with the PS3 roll-out, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities last month cut by half its shipment forecast to 3 million of the new PlayStations in the current business year to March, citing difficulties in procuring its cutting-edge parts.

The success or failure of the PS3 will have a far-reaching impact on Sony's group earnings.

At stake is more than just pole position in the nearly $30 billion video game industry, but also dominance in next-generation DVDs and the commercial viability of the "cell" microchip co-developed by Toshiba and IBM.

The PlayStation 3 comes with a Blu-ray high-definition optical disc player and is powered by the Cell microchip, dubbed a "supercomputer on a chip".

Sony holds high hopes that the PlayStation 3 will help Blu-ray technology conquer a rival format called HD DVD in becoming the standard for the next-generation DVD.

Sony also said on that it now expects to ship 2 million units of its PlayStation 3 video game console by the end of this year, half its original target of 4 million units.

The electronics maker also said it would start commercial production of the PS3 in late September.

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