Sony’s PlayStation Vita, its next gaming device, will be pushed back to 2012, missing the crucial holiday season and underscoring the handset maker’s attempts at turning around its struggling business.
The Japanese electronics giant said the Vita will be released in Japan later this year, but consumers in the U.S. and Europe will have to wait until next year, passing up big sales. More than 40 percent of Sony’s revenue came from Christmas sales in the U.S. and Europe.
The new portable gaming system, successor to its PlayStation Portable, will feature a 5-inch multi-touch OLED screen and two joysticks, along with front and rear touchpads on the back to control games using hand gestures. It will also integrate two cameras, one on the front and another on the back, which can be used to take photos as well as play augmented reality games.
The Vita’s delay will be a drawback to Sony’s plan for a comeback. After dealing with eight consecutive years of losses, the company lost over $172 million from a series of cyber-attacks this year, as well as damages suffered from the earthquake and tsunami in March.
Sony is now looking for growth in the increasingly-competitive market of mobile devices, one where Apple and Google are capturing the industry for casual games on iPhone and Android devices.
But the shift from traditional handheld gaming devices to mobile apps is proving difficult for Sony to gain a foothold, underscored by Apple’s iPhone becoming the “fastest-selling portable gaming device in history,” according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Still, if Sony wants to compete, the Vita will be a vital component in its turnaround efforts.
“The PlayStation business is a key pillar,” Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s Deputy President, told Bloomberg. “My expectation is for the PlayStation business to remain at the forefront of this very dynamic industry.”
Sony said the Vita will sell for $250 for a Wi-Fi-only model and $300 for one that runs on AT&T’s 3G wireless network.