My ears (eyes really) pricked up when I read that Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) launch was going to be delayed because of disk problems. Is the new Cell processor stressing the hard drives in new ways? Are there unreported problems with the hard drives it is going to use?
The answers are 'no' and 'no.' It appears that it can't get the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) copy protection function on the Blu-ray disks working properly. This protection is to prevent game piracy. PS3 will ship minus a hard drive but with Blu-ray DVD. This apparently adds expense as Blu-ray is costlier than the alternate HD-DVD format. But Sony is wedded to Blu-ray success and so Blu-ray it is.
It appears though, that Sony is making a rod to beat its own back with Blu-ray. We all of us devoutly wish that the HD-DVD and Blu-ray format dispute could have been resolved before production starts. It is not to be and we now face a period of a year or so while the disks thrash out a marketing war and, hopefully, a winner emerges.
This trial by consumer preference probably won't affect notebook and PC users as software distribution will still be by CD. Naturally Vaio desktops and notebook computers from Sony will ship with Blu-ray whilst HD-DVD-supporting notebook manufacturers will use HD-DVD.
If Sony had agreed to use HD-DVD or come to an accommodation with the HD-DVD backers then PS3 wouldn't be facing a delay which is handing Microsoft a couple of sales seasons for its Xbox 360 without Sony opposition. That's just what Redmond wants and probably exactly not what Sir Howard Stringer, Sony's boss, wants.
If Blu-ray fails in the market then PS3 might be affected too and the engine of Sony's business splutter to a halt. That would have drastic effects throughout Sony's business empire as budgets were cut back. PS2 revenues have been a major contributor to Sony's profits. Without a continuation of these high profits from PS3 Sony would be facing hard times. Blu-ray might, just might, be really bad news for Sony. There are very high stakes being played for here and Sony is pushing itself out on a high wire.
It's a great company with great products and we wish it well.