According to this article on Gamespot summarizing a financial analyst’s memo, Sony may delay the launch of the PS3 until 2007 in order to maximise profits and sales of the exisiting PS2 console.
The reason for this is that Microsoft are likely to drop the price of the current XBox to $99 on the launch of the new XBox360. For Microsoft this will still be a loss per box sold. For Sony however, the cost of producing the redesigned slimline PS2 is less than $99, so even if they drop the price to $99 they will still be making a profit. Reducing the price of the PS2 will also be a significant distraction on potential sales of the XBox360.
Sony will also be closely watching the sales of the XBox360 when launched for the holiday season this year. If sales are very strong, then Sony may be forced to play their hand and release in 2006. If Sony believe that they have a product that is so stong that they can afford to take the risk and release a year after the nearest competitor releases their competing product, then either Sony are being too optimistic on the potential demand for the PS3, or they truely have a product up their sleeves that is going to blow the competition away.
It seems sad that the timing of the launch of an eagerly awaited new console with radically new technology and potential comes down to strategic marketing. At the end of the day though both companies are only out to make money, and if this is the best way to acheive that goal then we may be waiting another year to see the fabled PS3.