I have heard similar rumors pointing to the $600 price point, but have also heard that their manufacturing costs will be somewhere in the neighborhhod of $800. The cost is largely associated with the R&D of the Cell processor. Microsoft absorbed similar losses with the Xbox 1 launch (approx. -$144 per unit sold).
It is generally assumed that the consumer market will not take well to an $800 machine, I have a hard time coming to terms with a $600 machine. The last gaming console to street at $600 was the Sega Saturn, and if you haven't heard of it, well that might tell you how well the launch went.
As for the timing of the devices arrival, I would say that not only will it be late, it will be a very thin launch with very limited software. As of this date, I have not seen any final PS3 development hardware and I am alledgedly developing a PS3 launch title (we don't even know what the dev kits costs but it has been rumored in the 10s of thousands per dev box).
To this end I would expect two things:
1. A very delicate launch (on time) with a massive sony style marketing campaign, probably less than 500,000 units for North America including Canada, with similar unit distribution in Europe (even though the 3rd party publishing world has been promised at least 1 million units at launch and 4 million in homes by Q2 to help justify the $10 million dollar per sku development costs). It will be time once again to shell out 2K and hope not to get an empty box through some shady ebay deal. I would also anticipate that these launch machines will be very buggy.
2: Due to the very short development time and lack of hardware, most 3rd party developers and publishers will only have time to perform "ports" of their existing 360 titles, with some rendering and graphics optimizations if it is a viable option.
As a consumer of the PS3, I will more than likely wait until the 2nd holiday season before I place one in my own home.
Just my .02