PlayStation 3 Delayed

Sony’s original plan was to unveil its new PlayStation 3 in Japan this spring, but due to difficulties concerning its production plans, it seems that Japan will not see the new PS3 until August. One of the main production difficulties is related to the Blu-ray Disc drive in each console.

According to a Sony spokesperson, the company is waiting for the final specifications on some of the technology that is being used in the PS3, which includes the Blu-ray drive as well as input and output video and sound.

Sony’s stock took a hit on Monday after Merrill Lynch released a research note last week which indicated that the PS3’s launch may be postponed by six to 12 months, and that the cost of materials used in the console’s production could be around $900 per unit at the outset.

Yuta Sakurai, a senior analyst at Nomura Securities, estimates the price of the unit to be around 50,000 yen, which is about $420. “I don’t think it matters when Sony launches in the U.S. as long as it’s in time for Christmas,” he added.

Sakurai expects Sony to aim for an early summer launch, which would be in time for the big selling season around July, which is when schools are on holiday.

Little is known for sure about the PS3 as of yet. Price estimates by analysts in Japan vary greatly, ranging from 40,000 to 300,000 yen. The console will allow up to seven players to play at once, and will be powered by the “Cell” chip, which is more powerful than Intel’s Pentium 4.

Other features include an enhanced graphics chip, a built-in Ethernet port, and Blu-ray, which is a next-generation DVD format that is backed by Sony.

Since the technology specs for the PS3 are being delayed, game developers are forced to develop games with guesswork. “Game makers are developing games according to their guesses on what the final specifications might be,” said BNP Paribas analyst, Takeshi Tajima.

Sony’s PS3 will compete with the likes of the recently-released Xbox360 and Nintendo’s Revolution console, which is expected to be released later this year.