The smallest of things caused a big issue.
Since the release of the original PlayStation, Sony has been a dominant force in the industry, displacing Nintendo and Sega (with the latter eventually leaving the hardware business completely). But their two biggest stumbling blocks have been the Vita, which was a major flop, and the beginnings of the PS3. Due to difficult hardware for developers, some poor marketing and a year long gap between it and the 360, it’s been the lowest point for Sony’s console business. And it all apparently came down, in part, due to a piece that cost a nickle.
In an episode of IGN Unfiltered, Phil Harrison, who was with Sony at the time, said that the blue laser diode necessary for the Blu-ray drive, which was new at the time, was in a huge shortage despite being a cheap competent. While it wasn’t the only reason for the year long internal delay, it played a major part.
The PS3 did eventually catch up to the 360, but the year long gap along with the high price tag definitely had a pretty huge impact on letting Microsoft dominant during that generation. Of course, with the PS4, Sony is back on top, but it’s interesting to think that the smallest of things can have huge consequences.