Sony is delaying the launch of its PlayStation 3 games console in Europe and Australasia until March 2007. The console was originally due to launch on November 17.

The company blamed a delay in mass production of blue laser diodes for the problem. The laser diodes are used in the optical disc drive inside the machine. Current consoles use red laser diodes, of which supply is plentiful, but the PlayStation 3 will have a Blu-ray Disc drive that requires the use of the new component.

The delay will affect all territories where the PAL system is used: Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia.

Despite the setback, Sony said it still expects to ship six million consoles worldwide in the period between its launch in Japan on November 11 and the end of March 2007. After Japan, the console is scheduled to go on sale in North America on November 17.