Update: We've just been informed that the initial Lazard report was inaccurate, and although the firm will release an official clarification tomorrow, here's a new statement from SCEA-
"Executives reconfirmed that the NGP will begin a phased launch rollout beginning at the end of 2011."
It has always been a question since the unit was announced: will the Next Generation Portable (NGP) launch in the U.S. this year?
After some confusion due to the recent crisis in Japan, Sony has confirmed the disaster hasn't changed their Japanese launch projection for the PSP's successor. Furthermore, it seems Sony has been telling analysts that the slick new handheld will indeed release in North America in 2011. Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian said SCEA reps "reconfirmed" the U.S. launch for this year. He also had a few comments about the unit itself; after praising its "cutting-edge GPU and CPU," he said price may still be a barrier for potential consumers. He also thinks the new smartphones on tap may prove to be stiff competition, even though the NGP is designed specifically for gaming.
Finally, Sebastian delivered a few updated statistics: Sony reports that there are now 75 million PlayStation Network accounts, which is a significant leap from the 60 million registered in January. Also, they say 1.4 billion pieces of content have been downloaded from the PSN all told. …that's a lot of content.