Sony says NGP release date may slip, confirms Android tablet for this year

[Update, April 6th: The Wall Street Journal posted a story today quoting Sony Computer Entertainment spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka as saying the Bloomberg report was wrong and that at this time they don't anticipate a delay in the NGP launch due to the earthquake.] If you've decided to skip the Nintendo 3DS launch in favor of getting your hands on the Sony NGP (Sony's new handheld gaming console) this holiday season, I've got some bad news for you. Due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th, the NGP might not make its original launch date.

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According to Bloomberg, Sony has had to shut down several factories in northern Japan for repair, and other factories are being hampered by a lack of components. Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said this might be the "the straw that says ‘maybe we get to just one market by the end of the year'" (what the other straws contributing to the situation were, he did not say). Tretton gave no indication of which market would be the 'one market' that they'd get the NGP to this year, but the obvious choice would be Japan (Sony's current handheld gaming device, the Playstation Portable, is very popular in Japan). Of course Sony has never promised to deliver the NGP to all markets this holiday. Originally (pre-earthquake) Tretton's comment was that the system would come to at least one region in 2011. This disappointing news comes just after Sony confirmed that an Android tablet was on the way and would be out in 2011. It's not clear whether this is the S1 tablet that was leaked back in February or not. We just know that Sony CEO Howard Stringer told Japanese newspaper Nikkei that Sony will have an Android tablet to market this year. VentureBeat speculates that it'll be the S1 and it'll include Playstation Suite and be pitched as a gaming tablet. If I had to hazard a guess I'd think that yes, it'll support Playstation Suite, but that it'll be pitched as a more general purpose tablet and potentially a Sony Reader replacement. The curved shape of one edge of the S1 lends it to being held with one hand easily; to me that's a feature designed around reading, not gaming. It seems a little odd that Sony is talking about delays of the NGP at the same time they're announcing tablets to ship this year, but I suppose it all comes down to where the hardware is being manufactured.

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