Sony confirms PS3 launch date

Long-awaited next-generation gaming console to make regional debut in March.

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By  Aaron Greenwood Published  December 5, 2006

Sony Gulf has confirmed the new PlayStation 3 (PS3) console will be launched in the Middle East in March. While an exact date has not been confirmed, Colin Thomas, marketing manager of Sony Gulf’s PlayStation division, said the Middle East launch would occur on the same day as Europe. Thomas attributed the launch delay to production issues relating to the Blu-ray drive that is supplied as standard within the PS3. “It is one of the challenges when developing cutting-edge technology,” he said. “Quite often you encounter production issues that are not easily overcome.” He sought to allay local retailer fears that they will face stock supply shortages despite the launch delay. “We have yet to confirm our distribution strategy for the Middle East yet,” he said. “However, one option we are considering is taking direct shipments from Japan to ensure there are no shortages. Thomas claimed that distribution bottlenecks were a common problem “with major product launches such as the PS3”. “Part of the reason we decided to delay the Middle East launch to March was because we wanted to ensure we had access to major stock inventory to supply our retail partners from the launch date,” he said. “On that basis, we expect our retail partners in the Middle East to encounter fewer problems than those in Japan or the US, which have faced stock shortages.” Sony has announced a recommended retail price in the Middle East of US$499 for the entry-level PS3 with 20GB storage capacity, and US$599 for the 60GB hard drive-equipped model. According to a recent teardown report published by market analyst iSuppli, Sony is taking a considerable loss on the production of each PS3 unit. iSuppli claimed that the manufacturing cost associated with each PS3 20GB model was US$805 and US$840 for the 60GB version, meaning the company is losing US$306 and US$241 respectively on each unit sold. Thomas confirmed that Sony was taking a significant loss during the initial PS3 rollout phase. “We encountered the same situation when launching the previous two iterations of PlayStation,” he said. “During the launch phase our focus is on encouraging adoption. We want consumers to embrace the technology from the outset, so we make a commercial decision to take a hit in the early stages, and once we have a decent install base we should start making money.” Thomas claimed that the launch of PS3 would accelerate consumer demand for the Blu-ray DVD format. “On the day PS2 was launched a few years back we instantly doubled the installed base of DVD players worldwide,” he said. “With the launch of PS3, we expect Blu-ray penetration to skyrocket overnight.” Thomas also confirmed that supplies of PS2 consoles would continue to be made available to Middle East retailers. “PS2 still sells strongly in the Middle East and we expect this trend to continue,” said Thomas. “PS1 production was only phased out two years ago. As long as there is demand for PS2 we will continue to produce the console.”

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