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Don't look for PlayStation 4 unveiling anytime soon

Sony's Kaz Hirai says that his company will not be announcing a new PlayStation at the E3 Gaming Expo this summer.

Speculation abounds that Sony will be unveiling a new console this year to take on the Wii U. But one of the company's top executives says it won't be happening as soon as some might hope.

Speaking to reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday, Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Kazuo Hirai said his company won't be unveiling a new console at the E3 Gaming Expo this summer, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was in attendance at the event. His comments followed a recent statement made by Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House, claiming the same.

Although Hirai's statement throws cold water on hopes that Sony would unveil the next PlayStation at E3, it doesn't mean Sony won't unveil the device--presumably named the PlayStation 4--at some point this year.

Last year, reports swirled that both Sony and Microsoft were already working on new consoles. Last April, video game blog Kotaku cited sources who said that both Microsoft and Sony would be launching their next consoles in 2014. A subsequent report last fall said Microsoft would be offering up its new console next year.

Historically, console makers have held to a five-year life cycle with their devices. However, Sony has stubbornly said over the years that its consoles can last on store shelves for 10 years. And although it might offer up a new console before that decade-long span is up, its hardware stays available for as long as it's commercially viable.

"We at PlayStation have never subscribed to the concept that a console should last only five years," Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications for Sony Computer Entertainment told CNET last year. "Both the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 had life cycles of more than 10 years, and PlayStation 3 will as well. The 10-year life cycle is a commitment we've made with every PlayStation consumer to date, and it's part of our philosophy that we provide hardware that will stand the test of time providing that fun experience you get from day one for the next decade."

At CES yesterday, Hirai made a similar claim, saying that the PlayStation 3 was designed to sit on store shelves for 10 years, and it's not going to be replaced anytime soon.

Nintendo, however, has a much different view on things. That game company has already unveiled the Wii U, the successor to its wildly popular Wii, which will launch later this year. But unlike Microsoft and Sony, which have advanced consoles, Nintendo was practically forced to offer up a new device now. The Mario creator's Wii is underpowered compared to competitors and its sales are slumping. The game company is in need of a boost.

Sony, though, isn't, and that's perhaps why it has decided against announcing a new console anytime soon. According to Sony's own sales figures, its PlayStation 3 sales have grown every year as of late, jumping from 9.1 million units sold to 10.1 million units and 13 million units between 2007 and 2009 fiscal years. During its 2010 fiscal year, Sony sold 14.3 million PlayStation 3s worldwide, and expects to hit 15 million by the end of its 2011 fiscal year in March.