Sony has scaled back the planned November global launch of the PlayStation 3. The console's European and Australian launch date has been pushed back to March 2007. The PS3 will still be available in Japan and North America in mid-November 2006, but the number of consoles available at launch in each territory has been cut to 100,000 and 400,000, respectively, with another 1.5 million units said to be available by the end of the year. It's unclear how that latter number will be divided between Japan and the United States, and how many of the PS3s will be the $500 entry-level version or the $600 deluxe version.
At E3 2006, Sony had touted its worldwide launch strategy and plans to sell a total of 4 million units across Japan, North America, Europe, and Australia before the end of 2006. The company--and eager PlayStation fans around the world--will now have to settle for half that. The culprit for the shortfall is manufacturing problems with a key Blu-ray component, which more or less confirms rumors that had picked up in the past few weeks.
The bottom line is that the PS3 is going to be just as hard to obtain this holiday season as the Xbox 360 was last year (assuming, that is, that Sony can still make the November deadline). That's music to the ears of Microsoft and Nintendo, and more bitter medicine to swallow for eager PS3 fan-boys--including those who are just looking for a more affordable Blu-ray player.