In what could result in a Christmas disappointment for hundreds of thousands of
children, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. has drastically decreased the number
of PlayStation 3 consoles it expects to ship this year as it wrestles with
shortages of key components.
The company had been planning to have 2 million consoles ready for the system's
almost simultaneous launch in Japan, North America, Europe and Australasia in
November and a further 2 million available by year-end. But revised figures
that were announced on Wednesday now call for only 2 million consoles being
available in all of this year.
The 2006 launch of the console has been scrubbed in a number of territories
including Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia and isn't
expected to happen until March 2007 at the earliest.
In Japan, where the Nov. 11 launch remains unchanged, Sony now expects to have
just 100,000 consoles available on launch day. In North America, where the
console is scheduled to go on sale on Nov. 17, the company said it forecasts
just 400,000 units will be available for sale on that day.
The figures mean that big shortages are likely.
Six and a half years ago when Sony launched the PlayStation 2 it shipped
720,000 consoles in Japan over its first weekend on sale. This time the hype
surrounding the PlayStation 3 is even greater but it appears Sony will be
fortunate to satisfy similar demand over at least the first seven weeks on sale.
Sony is blaming the problems on a delay in mass production of blue laser
diodes. The laser diodes are used in the optical disc drive inside the machine.
Current consoles use red laser diodes, of which supply is plentiful, but the
PlayStation 3 will have a Blu-ray Disc drive that requires the use of the new
Inclusion of Blu-ray Disc in the PlayStation 3 was seen by some analysts as a
gamble from the start. Sony is keen to make the format the de facto choice for
high-definition video and its use in the new console would ensure Blu-ray Disc
a place in millions of homes. But its use comes with other problems. Commercial
Blu-ray Disc players are only just coming onto the market so prices are still
high and, as Sony said Wednesday, some components are still in short supply.
Using Blu-ray Disc already tripped up Sony once. Until March this year the
company had been promising the PlayStation 3 in the "spring" of 2006 but as it
became evident that a launch wasn't to take place the company revised the
launch date to November. A key factor was the incomplete Blu-ray Disc format
because consumer-electronics makers failed to agree on the disc's copy
It's not the first time Sony has misstepped on a console's launch.
The company planned to have 1 million consoles in U.S. stores in November 2000
when it launched the PlayStation 2 but component shortages hit those plans and
Sony ended up shipping 500,000 units.