A mid 2007 launch of the PS3 is tipped for Australia as Sony continues to struggle. At the recent CES Expo Sony acted as if they were the most succesful kid on the block instead of being the has been.

At the recent CES event in Las Vegas Sony acted as if they were god in the CE market instead they are a struggling Japanese electronics makers who is wallowing under a mountain of debt. While all other vendors openly welcomed journalists to press events Sony decided to restrict journalists with many being denied access because local subsidaries had not put them on an invitation list.

For those journalists who did get into the Sony press conference the event turned out to be a bhig bore with little in the way of new innovations being announced. Many journalists decided to leave the event instead choosing to attend a CES keynote instead. What Sony did deliver was a lot of maybe’s and could be’s but not a lot of substance. What Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer didn’t say at the recent CES Show about Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console spoke volumes about the key product’s timetable, analysts say. He provided no updates about the product’s global launch despite the fact that it is critical to Sony’s turnaround strategy.

Although Sony had a prominent location on the showroom floor at the annual convention, the Japanese giant showcased televisions and portable music players, while the PlayStation 3 was tucked behind glass in the back of its booth. Sony offered only non-playable, demonstration versions of a limited number of games.

Industry watchers now expect the product’s launch in the second half of 2006, although Sony may get a Japanese version out during the “Spring 2006” launch window that the technology giant first predicted last year. Any delays could make it much harder for Sony as it races to put out its own new product to take on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in the market for video game players. And Sony faces a manufacturing challenge related to its switch to more-powerful computer chips, just as Microsoft did. Even the most optimistic analysts say Sony will wait and miss its predicted launch window to ensure it maximizes the ratio of usable chips per silicon wafer, better known as a chip’s yield, before Sony begins mass production. After touring the Sony display at CES, analyst William Drewry of Credit Suisse First Boston wrote that “the decision as to whether to delay the PS3 launch has yet to be made and is dependent on (improving its chip yield).”

Sony has said the computing power of the PlayStation 3 will be superior to that of the Xbox 360 thanks to a new microprocessor – dubbed the “Cell” processor – jointly developed by Sony and IBM. “We view any potential delay as being one to two months rather than six months duration,” wrote Drewry. Another analyst, Evan Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities, said “the most likely scenario” is that PS3 will be released in Japan this summer with about 1 million units and in the rest of the world in November with 1 million units, followed by a European launch in March 2007. Australia will be at the end of the line with a mid 2007 launch tipped.

Even if Sony follows a staggered launch schedule, as it did with it PlayStation Portable (PSP) device – it will likely have a smaller slate of new software titles than Microsoft did when it launched the Xbox 360 in the USA last year.

“Seemingly bizarre”

The chatter about PlayStation 3 delays heated up after Sony downplayed the product at its booth and Stringer, in his high-profile speech to the U.S. electronics industry, did the same. Stringer elected to showcase the firm’s less-expensive PlayStation Portable and its ability to let consumers access television programs and other video content on the go. Portable devices generated all the growth in video game hardware and software last year. The theme of mobile digital content delivered over the Internet was a major one at the huge consumer show this year, with everyone from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to top executives from tech powerhouses Google  forging mobile-related partnerships.

While the PlayStation Portable is a fast-selling new product, its revenue contribution is just a fraction of the PlayStation console. For his part, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment of America Kaz Hirai in his keynote dubbed the PS3: “a key pillar of Sony growth in 2006.” But the box will have an uphill challenge if the slate of published software gaming titles isn’t up to snuff by the key 2006 holiday sales season, which is looking likely.

Hirai said that Sony had shipped 4,000 development kits for PlayStation 3 games. At the biggest game-industry conference in May 2005, developers had their hands on developmental kits for only few months.

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