Wednesday 6 September 2006
Sony has announced that PS3 won't be released in Europe on 17 November, as originally planned, and has pushed the launch of its next-gen system back to March 2007.
In a statement released early this morning, Sony said that the revision of the launch date is "caused by the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PlayStation 3".
This reasoning is consistent with last week's reports that manufacturers are having trouble producing enough blue lasers to support both stand-alone Blu-ray players and PS3 in time for Christmas.
After breaking the news, PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi said in response to the bombshell: "We decided to focus on the Japanese and US markets... I am so sorry not to be able to answer to all the expectations."
While this dramatic change in its launch schedule has scuppered Sony's plans for a simultaneous global release of PS3, the Japanese and North American launch dates remain unaffected, with the machine appearing in those countries on 11 and 17 November, respectively.
In terms of how many PS3s Sony hopes to shift out of factories, it has said that the figure remains unchanged. "The previously announced PlayStation 3 shipment forecast of six million units globally within the fiscal year ending 2007 [March 2007] is not changed."
However, while the long term figure remains the same, in the short term the production problems will result in far fewer machines being available at launch in Japan and North America.
The Associated Press reports that about 400,000 PS3s will be allocated to US customers at launch and Japan will receive somewhere in the region of 100,000 machines. Furthermore, Sony's initial estimate of four million PS3s shipped to stores worldwide by the end of 2006 is likely to drop to two million.
Kutaragi offered that Sony has "been working hard to try to tackle the problem, but we see the [supply] delay is inevitable". He did assure that other PS3 preparation was going well and that mass production of the machine was scheduled to begin at the end of September.
And the silver lining to this big, black PS3-shaped cloud (of course, for Microsoft it's just one humungous dazzling silver cotton ball in the sky with gilt-edged gold lining) - at least now we might be able to realistically save up enough money to buy one at launch.