Days after rumoured specifications of Sony’s and Microsoft's new machines hit the internet, Sony CEO and former PlayStation boss Kaz Hirai was asked about console release windows. He told The Times (subscription required, via CVG): "Why go first when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?"
Hirai’s comment shouldn’t necessarily be taken at face value. Most industry professionals expect PS4 and the Xbox 360 successor to be announced and released along similar timeframes, and it’s more than possible both companies already have a reasonable understanding of their rival’s tech.
According to recent rumours, PS4 and the next Xbox will both be revealed at press conferences to be held in March. And Sony itself has hinted it may officially announce PS4 as early as May, according to comments attributed to Hiroshi Sakamoto, vice president of the company’s Home Entertainment unit, at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.
In November 2011, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO Jim Ryan said allowing Microsoft to get the jump on PS4 with its next console would be an "undesirable" situation Sony hopes to avoid. The following June, Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton said that “in a perfect world, you want the best machine that ships first”, but that quality is more important than launch timing: "We've never been first, we've never been cheapest, it's about being best. And I think if you can build a better machine and it's going to come out a little bit later, that's better than rushing something to market that's going to run out of gas for the long-term.”
Lifetime global PS3 shipments have reportedly surpassed those of Xbox 360, despite Sony’s console launching a year after Microsoft’s. That’s according to market research firm International Data Corporation, which claims PS3 shipments reached about 77 million units in December, compared to Xbox 360’s 76 million.