Sony Corp.’s launch of its next-generation PlayStation 3 video game console could be delayed if industry specifications for some of its technology are not finalized soon, although it is still aiming for a spring rollout, it said on Monday.
“We’re aiming for spring, but we haven’t announced specific regions,” a spokeswoman for Sony Computer Entertainment said, adding that it was waiting for the final specifications on some of the technology it is using in the PS3, such as that related to the Blu-ray DVD drive and to input and output video and sound.
“We’re waiting for them until the last possible minute, but the launch could be pushed back if they’re not decided soon,” the spokeswoman said. If the PS3 is not ready in time, the company will choose the next best timing for the launch, she said.
Sony has been promising a spring launch but has been deliberately vague about exactly when that would be. Analysts have said it could mean anytime between March and the end of Japan’s rainy season in June.
Sony currently has about 70 percent of the global market for game consoles, but some analysts have said it could lose as much as 20 percentage points to Microsoft, which is making an aggressive push to increase its 15 percent share.
Nintendo, which also has a 15 percent market share, is taking a different strategy as it aims to increase the number of game players with a unique console and original games.
Most analysts took the report in stride as they already expected Sony to launch the PS3 this summer in Japan, followed by a U.S. launch before the Thanksgiving holiday in November. They expect a launch in Europe in early 2007.
Having led the worldwide console gaming market for the last decade, Sony is counting on the new machine to dominate in all aspects of networked home entertainment — games, movies, music and more. It is estimated that Sony could charge at most 50,000 yen ($420) for the console.
Retail price estimates by analysts in Japan vary widely from about 40,000 yen to several times that much, primarily because of all of the technology that is packed into the machine, which is expected to be the size of a laptop computer.
The PS3, which can be played simultaneously by up to seven people, will be powered by the “Cell” chip, which is significantly more powerful than Intel Corp.’s Pentium 4, the most common chip for today’s PCs and existing game machine processors.
It will also feature a super-powerful graphics chip, a built-in Ethernet port for high-speed Internet access, and Blu-ray, a next-generation DVD format backed by Sony.
Analysts generally agree that Sony will do whatever it can to avoid missing the key year-end holiday season this year, but many believe it will be unable to make the PS3 in great volumes.
Game development for the PS3 is also seen being delayed because the technology specifications have not been finalized.