Information about the Sony PS3 release date is difficult to find at the moment. Not because there's none out there, but because over the last year, the release window has changed three times. Just before E3 2006, Sony announced the PS3 release date would be on November 11th in Japan, and November 17th 2006 for North America. Demand since then has skyrocketed, and despite the considerable cost of the PS3 compared to the two competing next-gen consoles, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, every major outlet offering pre-orders in the US has sold out.
Due to this considerable demand, the release date for the PS3 had to be pushed back in regions where PAL is the television standard, which includes the important European, Australasian, Russian, Middle Eastern, and African markets, until March 2007. Sony was quick to clarify that the number of units to be shipped had not changed, after earlier predicting that they would sell a massive six million units before the end of 2007. The delay stems from a lack of supply of blue-laser diodes, the crucial component for the read-head of the Blu-ray drives, which will be standard in every PS3 unit.
Analysts have been quick to criticise Sony for their failure to ensure a steady supply, noting that this latest delay will give the competing Nintendo Wii which will retail for a considerably lower price a lead in those markets outside Japan and North America, as well as giving the Xbox 360, which has already been on shelves for months, an even longer free run in the market. If any proof of the ravenous demand consumers have for PS3 is needed, the prices being charged by profiteers offering pre-orders on eBay and the like reach as high as $1,500, while Sony puts the official PS3 release date price at a mere US$500 for the 20GB version, and $600 for the 60GB version. Sony has allowed for 600,000 pre-order units for the American market, some of which will find their way from the online auctioneers to Europe and the other areas whose consumers have been told that they'll simply have to wait.
Others have been equally quick to point out that similar delays and short supply marked the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 approximately one year earlier, with far fewer than Sony's 600,000 units being available on release day. Understandably, this has lead to speculation that the media buzz created by fans queuing for hours just to be among the first to own one of the new consoles actually plays into the hands of the manufacturers: The consumer frenzy that results from high demand and relatively low supply may help to boost the popularity, come PS3 release date in November. Nintendo's Wii generated a similar effect when attendees at this year's E3 Expo were prepared to queue for up to eight hours just to spend a few minutes on one of the prototype consoles.
While the latest news regarding the Sony PS3 release date is disappointing for fans in Europe and the other smaller markets, the launch will still be among the most ambitious in console gaming history. The demand for pre-orders may well be fetching the highest prices ever recorded for any console system at release date, and despite fierce competition from the other manufacturers, Sony's marketing machine is clearly running at full steam. This will be a launch to remember.