NGP 'reconfirmed' for 2011 US launch - Analyst

Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian expects pricing of Sony's handheld to be unveiled at E3; PSN accounts now stand at 75 million.

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This month has seen some confusion about the launch window for Sony's Next Generation Portable. Last week, Sony Computer Entertainment America president Jack Tretton said that the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan may delay the launch of the upcoming portable. A Sony spokesperson later refuted that claim--but then said the company had always planned to stagger the NGP launch by territory.

Sony is telling analysts that the NGP is definitely coming to the US in 2011.
Sony is telling analysts that the NGP is definitely coming to the US in 2011.

Now comes word that the NGP will launch in 2011 in North America after all, as had been indicated during the portable's unveiling on January 27. In a note to investors, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian said that during a recent event, SCEA reps "reconfirmed" that the handheld would be released in the US this year. Previous word of a staggered launch had raised some fears the NGP would follow the PSP and launch in Japan first, followed by a US debut several months later.

Sebastian said he was impressed by how the portable version of Uncharted looked (see below) and praised the handheld's 5-inch display and "cutting-edge" GPU and CPU. However, he still has some reservations about the device. First and foremost, he is concerned a high price may put off many potential purchasers. Second, he is worried the device will have a dearth of nongaming applications, which will make it less attractive than a smartphone with gaming applications. Finally, he worries the faster release cycles of smartphones may make the NGP--and the 3DS--look dated, just as they did the PSP.

Sebastian also provided some other tidbits of information from the Sony analyst event. First, he said that there are now 75 million PlayStation Network accounts, up from 60 million in January. Over half those accounts are in North America, with some 1.4 billion pieces of content having been downloaded from the PSN as a whole since it went online in 2006.

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