PS3 delayed in Europe

It won't be here till March.

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has announced that the release date for PlayStation 3 in PAL territories has been pushed back until March 2007.

In an official statement, Sony said the decision to revise the launch date was taken following "the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PlayStation 3."

Gamers in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia will now have to wait until March to get their hands on a PS3. However, the console is still on track to launch in Japan on November 11 and in North America on November 17. Sony still plans to ship 6 million PS3 units globally before the end of the 2007 fiscal year.

Blue laser diodes are a key component of the PS3's Blu-Ray drive. Rumours of a shortage began to emerge just days ago, with reports suggesting that Sony had suspended shipment of the diodes to customers making standalone Blu-Ray players - but it would seem that wasn't enough to ensure there would be enough consoles to go round in November.

Sony's plans for a global launch in November were first announced by Ken Kutaragi back in March. The announcement came as a surprise to many industry observers who had predicted a staggered release schedule and a 2007 launch date for Europe - but at E3, SCEA president Kaz Hirai confirmed November release dates for all three territories.

News of the delay will no doubt please executives at Microsoft, which managed to pull off a global launch of the Xbox 360 last year. There were problems with hardware shortages but last month, Microsoft Europe boss Chris Lewis pledged that there will be no shortfall this Christmas - and with only the Nintendo Wii to compete against, MS could be set to clean up.

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