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PlayStation Delay Dings Gamers

Sony blamed the delay and limited shipments on problems it's had in producing mass quantities of the blue laser diode that will be at the heart of the PlayStation 3's Blu-ray DVD player. Blu-ray is a key part of Sony's strategy this console cycle; the company sees the feature as a key element to distinguishing the PlayStation 3 from Microsoft's rival Xbox 360.

Microsoft plans to offer a player that will read HD-DVD discs -- a rival high-definition DVD format to Blu-ray -- this holiday season, but the company does not plan to include the HD-DVD drive as a standard component in the Xbox 360.

The problems are yet more bad PR for Sony. The company already pushed back the launch date of the PlayStation 3 from this past spring to this November.

And there could be more bad news to come. Although the company was quick to emphasize that it still expects to ship 6 million PlayStation 3s by the end of its fiscal year in March, analysts have their doubts.

"I don't think it's a big surprise" that Sony is delaying the European launch and cutting its shipment forecast, says one hedge fund manager who follows the video-game sector, warning that the shipment number "could get lowered again."

That said, Sony's warning about shipments and launch dates have a familiar ring. Just last year, Microsoft had severe supply constraints on its Xbox 360 immediately after launching the console and ended up shipping far fewer of the devices in the first few months than it previously predicted.

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