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PlayStation Delay Dings Gamers

Sony's (SNE) move to delay the European launch of its PlayStation 3 game console and cut shipment expectations is a black eye for the company, but it may not mean a whole lot in the long run.

The electronics giant announced Wednesday that it won't start offering the PlayStation 3 in Europe until next March. Previously, Sony had said it would start selling the console there this November at about the same time as when it plans to ship the device to North America and Japan.

Company officials also warned that Sony expects to ship just 2 million consoles by the end of this year. That's half of what the company had previously forecast.

The delay and the lower shipment numbers will obviously hurt Sony's sales this holiday season, as well as those of publishers who were planning on releasing PlayStation 3 games. And it likely will benefit Microsoft (MSFT) and Nintendo, both of which are expected to ship significantly more units of their rival consoles this holiday season.

But those near-term effects will likely be limited, analysts say. And by the end of this console cycle five or six years from now, the effects may well be nil, they say.

"When it's all said and done, the PlayStation 3 will be the market leader," says James Lin, a longtime industry analyst and a consultant with Simba Group. "Long term, I see no impact."

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