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By Carl Howe

Game Informer reports that the final development kits for Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Playstation 3 have been delivered to developers and has some nice pictures of them. It's nice to see these units now in developers' hands. I faulted Microsoft last year for waiting until July to deliver its first development units with final development units to arrive a few months later (i.e., September/October). Sony seems to be ahead of Microsoft's schedule for last year by about a month.

Some of this appears to be a strong risk management program at Sony. There are still a lot of manufacturing pieces that have to come together for Sony to meet its launch schedule for the PlayStation, but Sony appears to have more backup plans than Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) did. For example, I remain concerned whether IBM (NYSE:IBM) can manufacture enough Cell processors, but Sony is also making the parts, so they aren't completely at IBM's mercy for that part.

The high-definition Blu-ray disk drive is also a high-risk part, but by the time PS3 ships, the Blu-ray drives will have been in production for nearly a year, and the software for them will have been shipping for about four months. And Sony recently shipped the 50 gigabyte Blu-ray media, meaning that all the pieces are now in place.

The launch of PS3 in November is by no means a slam dunk; there's still a lot that can go wrong. But from where I sit, Sony's experience in launching products well is starting to show. And combined with what I think will be a killer Christmas season of LCD sales for Sony, that bodes well for Sony's future -- and Sony's stockholders.

SNE 1-yr chart:

SNE 1-yr chart

Source: Sony's PS3 Ahead of Pace Set by Microsoft Last Year