So much for a spring debut. Sony ( SNE) plans to delay the launch of its upcoming PlayStation 3 until November, according to a published report. Sony decided to postpone the PS3 because of an issue with the Blu-ray DVD format, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Tuesday. The various electronics and movie companies pushing the next-generation DVD format have fallen behind schedule on agreeing to a technology standard to prevent unauthorized copies, the report noted. The ability to play Blu-ray DVD discs is expected to be one of the key features of the PlayStation 3. Many analysts expect the PlayStation 3 to help drive adoption of the new disc format by being the least expensive Blu-ray player on the market when it launches. The company will hold its annual meeting with PlayStation game developers on Wednesday in Tokyo, according to published reports. Some analysts have speculated that the company will officially announce the delay there. Kimberly Otzman, a representative for Sony's PlayStation group in the U.S., declined to comment on the Nihon Keizai Shimbun report or on what Sony might announce at the meeting. Blu-ray discs are expected to hold 8 times as much data as conventional DVDs, allowing content vendors to sell movies in high-definition format. But filmmakers and other content creators have been pushing for enhanced copy protection on next-generation DVDs to prevent piracy. Current DVDs use encryption schemes that are easily broken, which content owners argue has or could hurt sales. Rumors have been
swirling in recent weeks that Sony will delay the PlayStation 3. Although the company had previously predicted the device will launch this spring, it has not given any more definite launch plans such as the actual date of the release or how much the device will cost at launch.
Other than expectations of a November launch, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun had no other details. In addition to the price, still unknown is where Sony will debut the device and when it will release the machine to new territories. Sony has typically released its game machines first in Japan and months later in North America and Europe. But the company may be forced to change that routine this time around and launch in multiple territories at the same time, due to a potentially tough challenge from Microsoft ( MSFT). The software giant has already launched its rival game machine, the Xbox 360, in the three major markets: Japan, North America and Europe. Even though Microsoft had the only next-generation game machine on the market last holiday season, it posted only
limited sales of the Xbox 360 because of supply constraints . But many analysts have worried that Microsoft could gain a hard-to-top lead if Sony concedes another holiday season to the Xbox 360 in North America. The delayed launch of the PlayStation 3 could be further bad news for video-game publishers, which have been struggling with a rocky transition to new game technology. Game software sales fell last holiday season, and publisher such as Electronic Arts ( ERTS), Activision ( ATVI) and Take-Two Interactive ( TTWO) have reported disappointing results.