Sony Vita launching in Q1 2012, as expected

Yesterday we got the news that the Sony Playstation Vita won't ship in the US or Europe until early 2012. The word came from Kaz Hirai himself (via Bloomberg), so there's no reason to further speculate on a holiday launch for these two territories.

The news shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but it apparently has been for some bloggers and journalists. Some headlines are even calling this a delay. How can you have a delay when you never had an official launch date?

Let's recap. During their E3 press conference, Hirai did say the device was expected this holiday season, but in follow-up interviews after the presser Sony's Jack Tretton got a bit more specific, saying that it would be out in at least one territory for the holiday. The only other absolute time period I recall hearing was that the device would be out everywhere in this fiscal year, which ends March 2012.

That Sony would launch first in Japan, where the Sony PSP has done very well thanks in large part to the popular Monster Hunter franchise, also shouldn't be a surprise.

I think the shock is really stemming from a completely unbelievable rumor from earlier this week saying that the Vita would launch October 28th. The rumor stemmed from a flier reputedly produced by Blockbuster UK. If we're going to start using placeholder dates from retailers as evidence of launch dates, I can assure you that the Vita is coming out on New Year's Eve of this year, according to my Amazon pre-order (Amazon has 12/31/11 listed as a placeholder date; there's no way that's a real ship date.) It's sometimes unfortunate how quickly rumors based on the slimmest hope make the rounds.

I didn't report on the rumor since it seemed so unlikely. October just seemed too early in light of all the caveats and dissembling around a holiday launch. It also seemed too near-future given the complete lack of any kind of marketing campaign on Sony's part. I suspect we're going to hear and see a lot of ads for this thing when the launch really draws near.

The good news for Sony is that there's clearly an audience eager to get their hands on the Vita; I suppose it'd be worse news if no one cared that the holiday window would be missed in North American and Europe. Don't worry though, the Vita should make an outstanding Valentine's Day gift. Or at worst, a great St. Patrick's Day present!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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