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September 6, 2006

Sony takes another PS3 hit

Posted by Kim Peterson at 12:37 PM

Microsoft's Xbox chief, Peter Moore, expressed the tiniest bit of skepticism last May that Sony would actually be able to live up to its ambitious holiday launch plans of the PlayStation 3. At that time, Sony had planned to launch the PS3 on Nov. 17 in Europe and North America at two price points: $499 and $599. Sony also said it would ship 4 million systems by the end of the year and 6 million through March.

Sony's plans were not going to be easy, Moore told me in an interview.

Today, Sony said it had aimed too high. Citing manufacturing problems, Sony pushed back its European launch date to March 2007. It still plans to make the Nov. 17 date for North America. Furthermore, it cut its shipment forecast in half to 2 million systems by the end of the year.

The response was overwhelmingly negative. One Citigroup analyst suggested that even the lowered target was too ambitious, if mass volume production has not begun.

A U.K. retailer said this gives Microsoft a chance to solidify its market position, and it gives Nintendo the console launch spotlight.

The problem, Sony said, was again related to the sophisticated Blu-ray disc player that the company is including in every console. A lack of blue laser diodes for the players caused the delay.

Last year, Sony had planned to launch the PS3 in the spring of 2006, but was forced to push the release back to November because of Blu-ray issues.

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