Sony has unveiled the design of the successor to its PlayStation console sparking fears of a dip in leisure sector sales as consumers wait for the product to hit the streets.
Entertainment titan Sony revealed that its next-generation console will be launched in Japan by March next year, while UK retailers will have to wait until autumn 2000. The announcement was the first shot from Sony in the upcoming war between its PlayStation II and Sega's Dreamcast.
But as retailers wait for the consoles to slug it out on their shelves, analysts are predicting a fall in sales until the launches as consumers wait for the 128-bit consoles.
The European market had a buoyant 1998 with sales up 32 per cent to nearly #3.6 billion, according to GfK and ChartTrack analysts.
But Nick Gibson, analyst at Durlacher, said: 'When a spate of new consoles is about to come to market, there has been a fall in sales in the past.
This will have been one of Sony's main concerns in the timing of the release of information.'
Another worry Gibson raised was the eventual cost of the console. Sony claimed hardware development cost between $250 million and $300 million.
'Nobody has mentioned what the price will be to consumers. A lot of this technology is not at mass-market production levels yet. They are cramming in a lot of technology that could make the console or games expensive.'
At the hi-tech heart of the console there will be the emotion engine, a 128-bit processor developed with Toshiba; the Graphics Synthesiser processor; and an I/O processor, an enhanced version of today's PlayStation chip to ensure backward compatibility. It will also use a DVD-Rom drive.
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