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Blu-ray delay may push PlayStation

Copy-protection technology not yet finalized

Copy-protection issues on the Blu-ray Disc will push back the Japan launch of PlayStation 3 to early November, according to a report in leading Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The paper reported that copy-protection technology for the Blu-ray Disc has not yet been finalized, causing the delay.

Sony Computer Entertainment execs haven’t commented on the report, but president Ken Kutaragi was set to speak at a press conference today in Tokyo. Sony opened up the session, originally intended as a conference for game publishers, to media and analysts, feeding speculation that the company will announce worldwide release dates, pricing and an initial game lineup for the next-generation console.

Sony previously maintained that it would launch the PS3 in Japan this spring despite growing speculation over the last month that the game platform is behind schedule and the launch would be delayed.

Homevideo execs from two studios backing the Blu-ray format dismissed Wednesday’s report as rumor and questioned how Blu-ray issues could be responsible for a PS3 holdup. They say that copy-protection technology for the discs has been finalized and point out that Samsung Electronics and Pioneer haven’t reported similar problems in manufacturing Blu-ray players, which are due to ship in May.

If Sony confirms that the Japanese launch is pushed back, that could mean that it won’t get a U.S. release until 2007, as the PS3 was set to launch in Japan before other markets.

A delay in the rollout of PS3 could deal a severe blow to Blu-ray, which is battling rival high-definition format HD DVD for supremacy.

One of the draws for Blu-ray studio backers was its inclusion on the PS3, which could drive the format’s adoption by consumers.