PS3 to be unveiled at next E3

Sony says its next-generation portable will be on display next May, with SDKs to come in Q2 or Q3 2005.

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TOKYO--Just over a month after Nintendo announced it would unveil its next-generation console--code-named "Revolution"--at E3 2005, Sony has revealed that it will also use the event to debut the successor to the PlayStation 2. Speaking to a group of developers and media this morning, Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi was quoted by Reuters as saying, "There has been some talk that development is not going well, but we expect to have a playable version at E3. We are pushing ahead with that schedule in mind."

Kutaragi did not give a specific release date or a name for the next-generation console, most commonly referred to as the PlayStation 3. However, he did hint that the project is running about one year behind the PSP. Sony's portable is slated to hit Japan by the end of 2004 and America and Europe by March 31, 2005, the end of Sony's current fiscal year.

While surprising in its timing, Kutaragi's announcement jibes nicely with the preconceived order of the next-generation console race. Most analysts had predicted the PS3 to hit the markets in early 2006, several months after Sony stated it will begin mass production of the vaunted Cell processor it is developing with Toshiba and IBM. On the software side, Kutaragi said the first version of the PS3’s development kit will be distributed to developers during the first half of Sony's 2006 fiscal year (calendar Q2 and Q3 2005), followed by the second SDK in the second half (calendar Q4 2005 and Q1 2006).

Sony's announcement also means that Microsoft is now the only major console maker who has not committed to show its next-gen device, most often called the Xbox Next, at E3 2005. The announcement also likely rattled some nerves in Redmond, since Microsoft has publicly stated that the Xbox Next would beat the PlayStation 3 to market.

Prior to Sony's announcement, its shares closed today at 4,020 yen ($37.29), up 20 yen ($0.19).

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