Sony Computer Entertainment Inc will launch its next-generation PlayStation 3 console in November this year, its top executive said today.

The console will go on sale in Japan, North America and Europe at the same time, said Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony, at a briefing for software developers in Tokyo. That would make the PlayStation 3 the first console that Sony has launched simultaneously in major markets. The company will aim for production of one million units per month to satisfy launch demand, said Kutaragi.

Until today, Sony had said the console would be launched in the spring but the delay doesn't come as a surprise. Rumours had been rife in the gaming industry regarding the delay, which Kutaragi blamed on the late development of key standards related to high-definition video copy protection and the interface between the console and television.

The copy-protection system, called Advanced Access Content System (AACS), is being developed by a group of eight companies including Sony and was due to be completed last year but talks are still ongoing. A preliminary version of AACS, designed to allow manufactures to begin making first-generation Blu-ray Disc players, was announced earlier this month.

The late launch will also allow Sony to include the latest version of the HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) standard into the console. HDMI is a digital interface for high-definition video. Connectors for the format are already found on many new high-definition televisions and a new version of the standard, with support for more colours and higher speed, should be ready by June, said Kutaragi.

The delay means that Microsoft will have had a one year head-start in the high-definition gaming market by the time the PlayStation 3 launches. Microsoft launched its Xbox 360 in North America on November 22, 2005, and in Europe and Japan in the following two weeks.

The PlayStation 3 will boast legacy compatibility with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 content, support for the Blu-ray Disc format, compatibility with television resolutions from standard to 'full HD,' the latest version of the HDMI interface, a broadband network connection, wireless connectivity and a 60GB hard disk, said Kutaragi.