Nintendo says Gamecube sales hit 600,000 in 2 weeks

Nintendo of America Inc. says it estimates sales of its new Gamecube console totaled 600,000 units during its first 15 days on sale.

The estimate, based on direct communications with retailers, was announced by the company late Monday. When Nintendo launched the console on Nov. 18, it went into immediate competition with Microsoft Corp.'s new Xbox console, which went on sale just a few days earlier. Microsoft has not released any sales estimates for the Xbox to date.

When the console went on sale in Japan in September, Nintendo sold around 315,000 during its first 3 days on sale, the company said at the time. Currently the company estimates Japanese shipments will reach 1.4 million by the end of this year with U.S. shipments close behind at 1.3 million, said Yasuhiro Minagawa, a spokesman for Nintendo in Kyoto, Japan.

Based on the strong sales, Nintendo hopes to increase production of the console during 2002, he said.

"We hope that we can increase production sometime during the next fiscal year, but it all depends on the semiconductor manufacturers. Especially NEC (Corp.)," he said.

NEC produces the "Flipper" graphics processor for the Gamecube at a custom production line at its factory in Kyushu, western Japan. The chip sits alongside a special Gekko PowerPC processor from IBM Corp. and the Gamecube also includes technology from Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known by its Panasonic brand name, which developed a proprietary eight-centimeter optical disk that has a capacity of 1.5G bytes.

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Martyn Williams

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