Xbox to come one week late

Microsoft has extended the wait for its Xbox gaming console in the U.S. by one week, the company said Friday.

Hours after confirming that it would meet expectations for shipping 600,000 to 800,000 Xbox video game console in time for the U.S. launch, Microsoft pushed that release date back from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15.

The extension was due to "a number of strategic factors" that have surfaced in the past week, a spokeswoman for the company said. Although Microsoft would not give details about the delay, it did say contract manufacturing company Flextronics International Ltd. began manufacturing the devices at a plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday.

Another Flextronics plant in Hungary will also start producing Xbox consoles following the launch, said P.J. McNealy, a video game and hardware analyst with research firm Gartner Inc.

Microsoft said it still plans to ship between 1 million and 1.5 million of the high-powered, 128-bit game consoles to U.S. consumers by the end of the year. The company said it plans to do that by shipping more than 100,000 units each week following the launch.

The news of the U.S. delay follows an announcement in August that Microsoft would delay the release of the Xbox in Japan in order to ensure there were enough units to go around in the U.S.

Microsoft first unveiled the Xbox officially at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May. It said it would sell the system for US$299 and have 15 to 20 games available for the launch. Those plans are still on track, and Microsoft said Friday as many as 30 games will be ready by the end of the holiday season.

With the launch of the Xbox, Microsoft now will go head to head with Nintendo of America Inc., which plans to launch its next-generation Gamecube video game console in the U.S. on Nov. 18.

"This impacts Nintendo's launch because they're now up against Microsoft's marketing noise," McNealy said.

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Matt Berger

Computerworld

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