I guess we all saw this one coming: Sony on Wednesday delayed the
release of its next-generation PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game system by
about six months, from early 2006 to November 2006. The company blamed
the console's delays on a delay in the PS3's Blu-ray optical drive copy
protection scheme, which won't be finalized until April.

"I'd like to apologize for the delay," Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony's
video games division, said during a hastily organized press conference.
"I have been cautious because many people in various areas are banking
on the potential of \[Blu-ray\]."

The delay means that Microsoft could have the next-generation video
game market all to itself for a year or more. Microsoft's Xbox 360
shipped in November 2005 in three major markets--North America, Europe,
and Japan--almost simultaneously, though it was plagued by supply
problems. Now, Microsoft will own the next-generation market for the
rest of the year. The company says that Xbox 360 production should
reach full speed soon, and new game titles are shipping each month.

For Sony, the delay is an embarrassment and a potential business
disaster, and it proves that the company's previously impervious
PlayStation business isn't immune to the ills that have seized the rest
of the company. In order to recoup lost momentum, Sony says it will
make one million PS3 consoles available for sale each month beginning
in November, and the company plans to sell 6 million consoles by March
2007.

Because Sony is a Japanese company, it typically launches products
first in Japan, followed by other markets. However, this time the
company will launch PS3 simultaneously in North America, Europe, and
Japan, as Microsoft did last year.