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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 07:34 GMT
Sony delays PlayStation 3 launch
Sony's PlayStation 3

The release of the much awaited PlayStation 3 (PS3) games console has been postponed until November, Japanese electronics group Sony has announced.

Technical hitches related to the console's Blu-ray disc drive had forced the delay, Sony said.

Sony games chief Ken Kutaragi said they were still finalising agreements on disc copy protection technology.

Sony had been aiming for a spring launch for the successor to best-selling PlayStation 2.

The news was announced at a hastily-convened news conference, after reports of a delay appeared in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's main financial daily newspaper.

The reports had triggered a 1.8% drop in Sony's shares to 5,470 yen ($46.56; 26.67) on the Tokyo market.

The PS3 is one of three new gaming consoles promising cutting edge processing and graphical power.

Sony has said the console will ship with a 60 GB hard drive and will play games created for both the PlayStation 1 and 2 at higher resolutions than the original. No potential price was given for the console.

It will compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which went on sale late last year in the US, and Nintendo's Revolution, which is due later this year.

Worldwide release

So far Sony has dominated the market for home consoles, with its original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 having sold more than 200 million units.

It had originally planned to release its new machine in the spring. But instead it is now talking of a November release in Japan, the US and Europe simultaneously.

In the past, Sony has staggered the launch of new consoles, with Europe coming a belated third.

"We are absolutely delighted that we will be able to bring PS3 to gamers in Europe and Australia before Christmas," said David Reeves, head of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

"This is an exciting first for Europe, and is a huge endorsement and vote of confidence in the strength of the European market and its importance globally."

The delay means Sony's machine will not be in the shops in the US and Japan until a year after the Xbox 360, giving Microsoft a valuable lead in building up its market share.

A problem with the launch of the console could be a major setback for the company which is struggling to revive the performance of its consumer electronics division.

In an effort to revive its fortunes the firm has undergone a major restructuring drive involving 10,000 job cuts and 11 factory closures.

Sony's performance in the $25bn games industry is set to be one of the key factors determining the success of the firm's turnaround this year.

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