Analysts foresee PSP delay

Industry watchers PJ McNealy and Piper Jaffray & Co. think the US PSP launch may be pushed back as far as November 2005.

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Sony's PSP is at "high risk" of a substantial delay--into next year for Japan, and perhaps all the way to November 2005 for the US market. That's the word from two separate memos sent on consecutive business days from noted industry analysts.

On Friday, PJ McNealy of American Technology Research published a report that questioned whether the PSP software shown at the Tokyo Game Show--much of which was only 50 to 60 percent complete--would be ready for the Japanese launch of the system, currently slated for this December. "The launch of the PSP in Japan this holiday season continues to be at risk," McNealy wrote. "If [Sony] misses the PSP Japan launch schedule, it could affect the announced March North American launch and would be considered a negative to the video game publishers."

McNealy went on to describe two "likely" scenarios for the Japanese launch of the system. The first was a December launch with a "disappointing" launch lineup of "approximately five or fewer titles." This would seemingly contradict Electronic Arts' announcement that Tiger Woods and Need for Speed would launch alongside the PSP in Japan and the US, although McNealy did note in his report that "not all targeted launch titles were likely shown at TGS."

The second scenario posed by McNealy was a delay into January or later. If this delay, McNealy notes, were entirely software-related, it might not affect the March launch in the US. But if there are indeed "hardware issues such as battery management," McNealy sees the US launch window slipping into June.

Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray & Co. paints an even gloomier picture for the PSP's launch ambitions. In a report released today, the securities firm expects the handheld "to launch later than the current March 2005 expectation. First, Sony is usually late with most product introductions…and we are hearing that the platform has other issues such as thermal problems (transistors are running very hot) and a very short battery life (90 minutes) that will almost certainly delay the launch." All this points to a November 2005 launch in the US (possibly alongside the next Xbox system), the report concludes.

With the targeted launch window of the PSP in Japan fast approaching, Sony is expected to reveal pricing and launch-date information in the near future.

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