Sony Computer Entertainment spokesperson Kei Sakaguchi has officially denied reports from financial analysts at Merrill Lynch that the PS3 could be delayed by several months, reiterating that the console will launch this spring.
Sakaguchi was responding to allegations made by Merrill Lynch analyst Joe Osha in a report published late last week, in which Osha claimed that the PS3 could launch in autumn in Japan, with a US launch possibly being delayed to early 2007.
"There is no change in our original plan to release the console in spring 2006," Sakaguchi told the press in Tokyo, referring to the company's only stated goal for the launch so far - namely that the console will appear in at least one territory, most likely Japan, this spring.
Curiously, Sakaguchi's comments appear to directly contradict statements which appeared on the BBC News website this morning, attributed to an unnamed Sony spokesperson who apparently confirmed that the firm is "aiming for spring", but went on to comment that certain unfinished technical specifications could hold up the system. "We're waiting for them until the last possible minute, but the launch could be pushed back if they're not decided soon," the spokesman is quoted as saying - although in the absence of any source information, it's impossible to say how much weight should be attached to these comments.
It's also hard to say what exactly Sony defines as "spring", however. It's certainly not the traditional definition of the season, which covers the months of March, April and May. That would probably mean that the company has to meet its goal by E3 in May - a near-impossibility, given that no price point has been announced and no pre-sale activity has taken place at retail.
It's possible, however, that Sony will be ready for a launch by June or July, at least in some limited sense - not enough to make serious headway in terms of sales, perhaps, but enough for the firm to be able to argue that it met its own deadline and certainly enough to create a media furore that would give consumers another option to consider before purchasing an Xbox 360.
That last factor is one Sony must be painfully aware of. By the time the PlayStation 3 launches, assuming that the company can manage to scrape a June/July launch out of the system, the Xbox 360 will already have racked up between 4.5 and 5.5 million sales - not a lot on the scale of an entire console life cycle, but certainly putting a lot of open water between the Microsoft console and the PS3 in the crucial first 12 months.
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