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May 25, 2006 7:10 am

Nintendo to ship 6m new consoles in six months

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Nintendo on Thursday forecast it would ship 6m units of its Wii games console within six months of launch and confirmed it would be the cheapest of the next-generation machines.

The Japanese company said retailers around the world should expect to receive 6m consoles by the end of its fiscal year in March 2007. It continued to avoid giving a specific release date for the Wii, saying only that it would launch in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Nintendo said the system would not cost more than $250 in the US nor more than YEN25,000 in Japan.

Nintendo is the number-three console maker with its current-generation GameCube - behind Sony?s PlayStation2 and Microsoft?s Xbox. But the GameCube?s successor, the Wii attracted the most attention at this month?s E3, the biggest industry trade show, with attendees intrigued by its revolutionary motion-sensing controller.

Sony announced at the show that its PlayStation3 would sell for $499 with a 20-gigabyte hard drive and $599 with a 60GB one. Microsoft sells its Xbox 360 for $299 without a hard drive and for $399 with a 20-gigabyte one.

The pricing of the Wii is at the bottom end of analysts? expectations. Forrester Research had forecast a $249 to $299 price point in the US.

Microsoft is likely to have a year?s lead over its competitors. It released the 360 last November and Bill Gates, its chairman, predicted at E3 it would have 10m consoles in the market before its two rivals could launch.

Sony?s PS3 will go on sale in Japan on November 11 and in the US and Europe on November 17. It has also predicted 6m shipments by the end of March 2007.

Citigroup analysts said Nintendo?s ramping of the Wii was faster than their expectations of 2.8m units being delivered in 2006 and 5.3m in 2007.

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