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Japanese earthquake could stagger NGP launch

PSP successor may be released in only one region this year, following disaster

The release of the NGP, Sony's successor to the PSP, may be limited to a single region because of the continuing disruption caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Sony Computer Entertainment America president Jack Tretton admitted that instead of a worldwide launch this autumn the Next Generation Portable may be released in only one region: either Japan, Europe or the US.

Referring to the earthquake disaster in an interview with Bloomberg, Tretton commented: "It may be the straw that says 'maybe we get to just one market by the end of the year'".

As with earlier concerns over the launch of the iPad 2, the earthquake has forced several factories in Japan to close for repair. Supplies from third parties have also become unreliable in Northern Japan.

New consoles from Sony and Nintendo are often released in Japan first, with the PSP originally appearing in Japan in December 2004, in North America in March 2005 and Europe in September 2005.

"It raises the bar on the competitive issues that Sony is going to have to hurdle," said Wedbush Securities analyst Edward Woo. "As it is now, it's already going to be almost eight months behind Nintendo, and a delay could push that to a year."

"Expectations are pretty limited for NGP this calendar year, the idea being that they would need some time to build up a library," said Jay Defibaugh of MF Global FXA Securities.

"Third parties carry more weight for the Sony platform and are going to need more time for development, so the medium-term view is more important for NGP than how it gets out of the starting block," he added.

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