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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
PlayStation 3 Euro launch delayed
PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 was expected to be a major Christmas seller
The launch of Sony's long-awaited PlayStation 3 games console in Europe has been delayed until March 2007.

Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony's global computer entertainment division, said the machine would still be launched in November in the US and in Japan.

Mr Kutaragi blamed the European delay on problems in mass producing elements of the high-definition Blu-ray disc drives in the machines.

Sony said it still aimed to ship six million new PlayStations by March.

But it halved its forecast for the end of 2006, saying just two million units would be shipped worldwide before the end of December.

Production problems meant that fewer machines than anticipated would be available for the launch in Japan and the US, Mr Kutaragi said.

I always believed Sony were going to win this console war, but now I believe that they have dug their own grave
Jermaine Alli, London

Speaking at Sony's global headquarters in Tokyo, Mr Kutaragi apologised for the delays to the PlayStation 3 launch.

But he said Sony had decided to focus on the US and Japan in the run-up to Christmas.

"I am so sorry not to be able to answer all the expectations," he said.

The delay is due to a problem with the mass production of the blue laser diodes needed for the Blu-ray DVD player in the machine Sony said.

Long delays

This is not the first time the next-generation console has been hit by delays.

In March Sony were forced to postpone the original launch date, scheduled for spring 2006, because of problems with the Blu-ray disc copy protection technology.

Sony PlayStation 3
Retailers had hoped to start taking orders for the console in September

Normally Sony staggers the release of a new console, releasing in Japan and America, with Europe coming a belated third.

The initial delays meant that Sony revised its schedule, saying that the console would be released in all three markets at the same time.

David Reeves, head of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe said at the time: "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 latest delay means that European gamers will have to wait a further 4 months to get their hands on the next generation console.

Christmas disappointment

It also means Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was launched last year, will enjoy another Christmas without facing a challenge from Sony in Europe.

Nintendo's Wii console is also scheduled for a worldwide release this autumn, although no firm date has been set.

Ray Maguire, senior vice president and managing director of Sony UK, said: "We are extremely disappointed at news of this delay, and can truly empathise with everyone who was looking forward to PS3's imminent release.

"We will however be working tirelessly to ensure that the March 2007 launch, is the biggest and best in the company's history."

On Wednesday Sony began introducing UK retailers to the new games console.

Some were hoping to begin taking pre-orders for the console from the middle of September.

Tim Ellis, head of games for HMV, said the delay was a disappointment for gamers and for retailers, who had been waiting for the launch for much of 2006.

"It also presents a major opportunity to Microsoft to consolidate Xbox's position in the market, while Nintendo have a great chance to launch and firmly establish Wii," Mr Ellis added.

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