I recently read a report from a Merrill Lynch analyst, who makes a strong case for suspicions that Sony may miss its target launch of the PlayStation 3 this summer. The Merril Lynch estimate for the bill of material costs this summer will total $900. Those are the component costs; it would have to sell for twice for everyone to make money on it. Meanwhile, Microsoft has its competing XBox 360 selling for a list price of $400. If Sony were to try to get close to that price, the PS3 might be the biggest loss-leader of all time.
Even more interesting for the HDTV market is Merrill Lynch’s cost estimate for the BluRay drive that is to be included in the PS3: $350 this summer, declining to $100 in three years. This is not good news for Sony on a couple counts. Toshiba has already announced plans to ship a $500 list price HD DVD player; Sony will have a hard time matching that price if the drive costs $350 to make. And if Sony does slip the PS3 ship date, that will greatly lower the demand for BluRay drives, which will keep the component cost high due to low volume sales. If Sony holds back on the BluRay players as well, they let the HD DVD camp be the first with the most on the market, which could be enough for the movie studios to crown a victor.
There’s no official word from Sony about a possible delay in the PS3 launch, but if Merrill Lynch is right about this, it could have an important impact on the HD movie disc market.