A spokesman for Sony said it was still targeting a spring 2006 launch for the PS3, which is key to maintaining its lead in the game console market against Microsoft, which recently launched its competing Xbox 360 console. Larry Probst, chief executive of video game publisher Electronic Arts, said last week that he believed Sony's console would not be available until fall 2006.
The PS3 also is central to Sony's push of Blu-ray, its next-generation DVD technology, against a rival DVD format known as HD DVD, created by a Toshiba-led group. Billions of dollars are at stake in the DVD format war as movie studios and electronics makers gear up for a technology change they hope will send consumers back to buy new players and discs that will play high-definition pictures. Failure to reach a unified front has paved the way for a standards war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, reminiscent of the VHS-Betamax clash decades ago, which confused buyers and turned into an expensive loss for many companies.
Many industry insiders have expected that splashy launch of Sony's PS3 console to give Blu-ray an edge and deliver a huge base of players for Hollywood studios looking to sell compatible DVDs.
A spokeswoman for the Blu-ray consortium said the group was still on track for a spring 2006 launch, indicating other manufacturers would be rolling out Blu-ray players at that time. "When Blu-ray launches next spring, there will be both hardware and content," she said.
Rival HD DVD, which is supported by Microsoft and Toshiba, is planning to roll out hardware and software in the spring 2006. Any delay in the launch of PS3 would be seen as a plus for HD DVD. "The PS3 was touted as being the first high volume Blu-ray player. You want to have an installed base of players if you put out the movies," said Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering, an industry research firm. Said Mark Knox, a spokesman for the HD DVD camp: "It's not going to be much of a battle until both sides are actually on the field and we have a sneaking suspicion that that won't be for quite a while."