Sony Delays New PlayStation Portable Until Next Year in U.S., Europe

Sony says the yet-to-be-released PlayStation Vita is facing delays and that the portable game device will no longer be released everywhere in time for the very important holiday shopping season.

In June, the company said at E3 that the new device would be available before the end of the year.

Today, Bloomberg reports that the schedule has changed and that the product will now be introduced in Japan before the end of December, followed by launches in the U.S. and Europe early next year.

Kazuo Hirai, Chairman Howard Stringer’s top lieutenant, who talked to reporters in Tokyo today, also said the company has no plans to lower the price of the device.

The Vita, which represents a major update from the last PSP, will cost $249 for a Wi-Fi version, while the AT&T-connected 3G version will cost $299 (not including data plans). Two months ago, those prices seemed competitive, but since then, Nintendo has slashed the price of its struggling 3DS to $170, down from $250.

Both delays and a higher price point will make it difficult for Sony to compete against similar devices, as well as other multi-purpose consumer electronics, which are increasingly being used as game devices, such as phones, iPods and iPads.

The Vita is expected to stand out because of its brilliant 5-inch touchscreen, as well as other nice hardware features, such as front and rear touch pads and cameras that provide additional game control and augmented reality. Many of the games will also be stored in the cloud, so players can pick up on the PlayStation 3 where they left off on the Vita.

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