Tokyo (Japan) – Sony today confirmed earlier media reports that the firm’s new game console Playstation 3 would launch in November of this year – giving Microsoft’s Xbox 360 a 12-month head start. The console was originally planned to be introduced in spring but has been delayed because of standardization problems around the Blu-ray format, Sony said.
Speaking at a briefing with journalists and analysts at Tokyo, Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony’s Sony Computer Entertainment division, promised a simultaneous launch of the Playstation 3 in Japan, North America and Europe for November. He indicated that production of the console may begin as early as June with the plan to sell about six million devices by year end.
The November launch time frame represents a six month delay over the initial spring target indicated in late 2005. According to Kutaragi, the later introduction date is caused by a delay of the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) – the copy protection technology of the Blu-ray media format. The AACS spec originally was believed to be finalized by August 2005; now, Kutaragi expects the final spec and the solution of other “technical problems” by June of this year, according to media reports.
Sony claimed that a more aggressive schedule would have enabled the company to push the launch of the console into summer of this year. “We were discussing selling it in September and some even said put it out in July,” Marketwatch quoted Kutaragi. The company promised to include the final and full final specifications of Blu-ray into the PS3.
Kutaragi did not announce details on the pricing of the console. However, there is a consensus in media and analyst reports that the device will cost significantly more that $299. While the bill of materials of the PS3 is estimated to reach about $900, the console may be launched with a retail price of about $500.
While Sony told media that the production capacity of the PS3 will be about 1 million units per month and that the firm expects to ship about six million devices during this year’s holiday season, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 will have built a substantial customer base be the time the PS3 will be on retail shelves. Analysts recently forecasted that Microsoft will be shipping between 11 and 12 million consoles during 2006; 1.5 million Xbox 360 units were shipped in Q4 of last year.