Sony's delay in shipping the PlayStation 3 is unlikely to hurt the company in the long run, according to analyst firm In-Stat.

Last week Sony Computer Entertainment announced it will delay the introduction of its PlayStation 3 game console, a move many regard as a chance for Microsoft to consolidate its early lead in the next-generation console market.

Not according to the analysts: "Sony will continue its domination of the video game console market through 2010," In-Stat said.

The PlayStation 3 will account for slightly more than 50 per cent of all next-generation console sales through 2010, extending Sony's domination of the game-console market, In-Stat said. Microsoft will take 28.6 per cent of sales, while Nintendo's Revolution console will have a market share of 21.2 per cent, it said.

While the relatively early launch of the Xbox 360 will not threaten sales of the PlayStation 3, Microsoft's head start will give it an edge over Nintendo, In-Stat said. Other factors that will boost the Xbox 360 over the Revolution are its strong market position in North America and appeal to older gamers, it said.

Between now and 2010, 2006 is expected to be the slowest year for console sales, In-Stat said. Sales this year are expected to be around 25 million units. This figure will rise to about 39 million next year and hit 42 million the year after, In-Stat said.