Xbox UK boss Neil Thompson has confirmed that he is confident Microsoft will have a strong head start in the next-gen console battle, suggesting that the PS3 might not launch until spring 2007.
"Iíll be happy to compete whenever they turn up, but I wouldnít be surprised if thatís not until spring 07," he told trade magazine MCV.
"If they hit Xmas 06, then maybe itíll be a very thin launch; a launch in name only."
So far Sony has only hinted that the next-generation PlayStation will hit the market in spring 2006, and it seems unlikely that the company will follow in the footsteps of Microsoft and attempt a global launch. They're more likely to follow the traditional model and launch in Japan first, followed by North American and then PAL territories.
But just when will the console arrive in Europe? Autumn 2006 seems likely to be the earliest date, with a 2007 release still a distinct possibility. As for how much the console will cost, estimates continue to vary wildly, with some industry figures predicting that the PS3 could retail for as much as GBP 499.