Wednesday, September 06, 2006

PlayStation 3 Delayed Until March 2007 In Europe.

Sony's PlayStation 3 console will be delayed until March in Europe, but will go on sale in November as planned in the U.S. and Japan, the executive in charge of the project said Wednesday.

The sales delay is caused by a problem in mass producing a key component in the Blu-ray disc laser part of the machine, the next-generation successor to Sony Corp.'s hit PlayStation 2, Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Ken Kutaragi told reporters.

"We decided to focus on the Japanese and U.S. markets," he said at the gaming unit's Tokyo headquarters. "I am so sorry not to be able to answer to all the expectations."

The company is still sticking to its initial global target of shipping 6 million PlayStation 3 machines by March 2007.

But far fewer machines will be available for the launch dates in Japan and the U.S. because of the production problem, Kutaragi said.

In the U.S., about 400,000 PlayStation 3 machines will be available when they go on sale Nov. 17. About 100,000 will be available on the Nov. 11 Japan launch date.

The production problem is causing about a one-month delay that will reduce the company's supply capacity by about a million machines from the original plan, he said.

"We've been working hard to try to tackle the problem, but we see the delay is inevitable," he said.

James Hong, Head of Equity Derivatives Trading at Dresdner Kleinwort in Tokyo, said the news may put another dent in Sony's stock, which fell 50 yen, or about 1 percent, to 5,050 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The market closed before the announcement.

"This seems to be the continuation of a series of bad news. People were prepared to wait for the PS3, but delaying its European launch so they miss the Christmas season is just so not good," he said.

"This is a crucial product given its Blu-ray features, and they need to get it out fast. I doubt this is going to help their stock price," he said.

The set-back is the latest to hit Sony, which is has been overhauling its electronics operations to catch up in key electronics products such as MP3 digital music players.

Last month, its shares tumbled after Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. issued huge recalls of defective laptop batteries made by one of Sony's subsidiaries, Sony Energy Devices Corp.

Kutaragi said other preparation work on the machine was going smoothly, including the "cell" next-generation computer chip. Mass production of the machine is set to start end of September, he said.

Although Sony had initially counted on shipping 4 million PlayStation 3 machines worldwide by the end of the year, that will likely fall to 2 million, he said.

The exact European sales date will be announced later, but it will likely be in the early part of March, he said.

Blu-ray disc is the next-generation video format for the latest DVD recorders and players, but also an essential part of the PlayStation 3.

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