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New PSP delay fears

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick sets the cat among the pigeons with Q2 2005 launch prediction.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has told investors that he doesn't believe that the PSP will launch in North America until Q2 2005, prompting fresh fears that the arrival of Sony's forthcoming handheld console will slip once again.

Kotick's statements - which could place the launch of the PSP as late as June 2005 - were reported in a note from American Technology Research analyst P.J. McNealy, who said that it is "at best a 50-50 proposition that Sony will make its scheduled holiday 2004 Japan launch."

Any delay in Japan would push the North American launch of the console out of the March quarter - and consequently out of Sony's 2005 fiscal year - and would also have a knock-on effect on the European launch of the hardware.

Sony denies that there has been any change to its launch plans for the PlayStation Portable. The next hard information about the console is likely to emerge at the Tokyo Games Show at the end of September, where the device will be playable for the first time and final details of the Japanese launch date and price are expected to be announced.

While the excitement both within the industry and among consumers about the PSP is enormous, there has been frustration at Sony's failure to provide an indication of the price of the system. Consensus has suggested that a price point of between $250 and $350 is likely, but Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell stirred up a hornets nest a few months ago when he said that he believes a $500 price tag is possible.

Developers have also complained that final dev kits failed to materialise on schedule, while question marks remain over Sony's plans for a PSP online service, support for movie releases on UMD, and crucially, the battery life of the system in real world conditions.