• Associated Press

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The launch of Sony’s upgraded video-game console, the PlayStation 3, will be delayed until March in Europe but proceed as planned in November in Japan and the United States, the executive in charge of the project said Wednesday.

The delay is being caused by a problem in mass producing a key component in the machine’s Blu-ray disc laser, Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Ken Kutaragi told reporters.

“We decided to focus on the Japanese and U.S. markets,” he said at the gaming unit’s Tokyo headquarters. “I am so sorry not to be able to answer to all the expectations.”

The company will stick to its initial global target of shipping 6 million PlayStation 3s by March 2007. The struggling company hopes the next-generation console will be as successful as its hit predecessor, the PlayStation 2, which made waves with an internal first-generation DVD player.

But the problem means there will be far fewer machines available for the launch dates in Japan and the U.S., Kutaragi warned.

In the U.S., about 400,000 PlayStation 3 machines will be available when they go on sale Nov. 17. And only 100,000 will be available for Japan’s Nov. 11 launch date.

The problem is causing about a one-month delay that will reduce the company’s supply capacity by about a million machines, he said.

“We’ve been working hard to try to tackle the problem, but we see the delay is inevitable,” he said.

James Hong, head of equity derivatives trading at Dresdner Kleinwort in Tokyo, said the news may put another dent in Sony’s stock, which fell 50 yen, or about 1 percent, to 5,050 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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