PlayStation Vita to miss Christmas in US, Europe

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Thursday 04 August 2011 00:00
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Sony's upcoming PlayStation Vita game console will not hit shops in North America and Europe until after the key Christmas holiday shopping season, the Japanese company said Thursday.

It will go on sale by the end of this year in Japan, followed by releases in the US and European markets in early 2012 said Kazuo Hirai, executive vice president.

"Our plan right now is to launch in Japan by the end of the year, and then in North America and European markets early in the new year," Hirai told reporters in Tokyo.

Hirai, seen as the likely successor to current chief executive Howard Stringer, declined to elaborate further but said Sony was preparing to secure enough game titles to ensure the product's successful launch.

He said he was unfazed by Nintendo's recent decision to cut the price of its 3DS game console by nearly 40 percent due to its weak sales performance, stressing that Vita contains attractive features for buyers.

Both Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo are under increasing pressure from smartphones and tablets such as Apple's iPhone and iPad, onto which cheap or even free games can be quickly downloaded and played.

The PS Vita features a five-inch (12.7 cm) multi-touch OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen with a pad on the back for "touch, grab, trace, push and pull" finger motions. The handset also had front and rear facing cameras.

A PS Vita model that connects to the Internet only using Wi-Fi will be priced at $249, while a version of the gadget featuring 3G connectivity to telecom data services will be priced at $299.

Hirai added that Sony was still searching for ways to turn around its unprofitable TV operation, and called the mission his "priority."

"For Sony and what we stand for...the TV business is a very important fundamental platform that we have," he said, along with computers, smartphones and tablet PCs.

Television markers around the world have bled losses due to harsh price competition.

Sony said last week that it fell to a net loss in the April-June quarter due in part to damages from the March 11 earthquake, a strong yen and weak television sales.

It lowered projected LCD television sales, after having suffered seven straight years of red ink in the TV business amid a fierce price war to attract consumers.

"The result of that is most, if not all players in the space right now, are very challenged to make profits out of TV business."

Hirai, who is credited with growing Sony's games business to become a pillar of its earnings, said he does not have "all the answers at this point" on how to boost the segment.

He added that Sony might consider scaling down in-house television production and outsource more to lower cost.

Japanese high-tech maker Hitachi said Wednesday it is considering shifting all television production to foreign outsourcing firms by March.

hih/dwa/adm

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