February 17, 2006 5:18 PM PST The North American launch of Sony's much-anticipated PlayStation 3 could be delayed until next year, according to a research report issued by Merrill Lynch. In the report (Click here for PDF), the analyst firm proposed the idea that high costs and Sony's decision to use an "ambitious new processor architecture--the Cell" is making it look like the company might not be able to meet its goal of getting the PS 3 out in the U.S. this year. The report suggests the possibility that the PS 3 would launch this fall in Japan and in late 2006 or early 2007 in the U.S. Naturally, it's impossible to know what will really happen with the PS 3, as Sony has maintained a policy of being about as tight-lipped as it could be. But there's no doubt that any significant delay in the next-gen console's launch would be a big black eye for the company, especially since Microsoft has had its Xbox 360 out since last November. Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the end, we probably won't know what's going to happen until at least May, when the video game world converges on Los Angeles for E3, the industry's biggest gathering. But it's looking more and more like Sony may be forced to keep mum even there, and that certainly wouldn't play well. Posted by Daniel Terdiman http://news.com.com/2061-10797_3-6041208.html?part=rss&tag=6041208&subj=news .