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Nintendo to launch new game console in 2006

Japanese newspaper reports the company will miss the key 2005 holiday shopping season, giving Microsoft a head start.

Nintendo will launch its new video game console sometime next year, missing the key 2005 holiday shopping season and putting it a step behind Microsoft in the battle for the next-generation game machine, a Japanese business newspaper reported on Saturday.

The report comes two days after Microsoft announced that its new console, called Xbox 360, will be in stores in time for the 2005 year-end shopping season, giving it a head-start on the competition if Sony and Nintendo don't introduce their new consoles until next year.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun paper said it obtained the information from Nintendo on Friday, without citing sources. Nintendo has not officially set a date for its next generation console, code-named "Revolution," although a 2006 launch has been widely expected.

Nintendo officials were not immediately available for comment.

Based in the ancient Japan capital of Kyoto, Nintendo was the dominant brand in home video game consoles for much of the 1980s and early 1990s until Sony entered the market with its PlayStation and Microsoft later introduced its Xbox machine.

Nintendo has said that Revolution will be ready for wireless Internet gaming and backward-compatible with the current generation GameCube, which is now in third place in the console market behind Sony's PlayStation 2 (PS2) and the Xbox.

The new console will be powered by a chip developed by IBM code-named "Broadway" and a graphics processor from ATI Technologies code-named "Hollywood."

Revolution will use 12 cm optical discs and be about the size of three DVD cases stacked together, the Nihon Keizai said.

Sony has not said when it will release its next-generation console, tentatively named PS3, although industry watchers generally expect it to hit stores sometime next year.

Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are expected to show off their next-generation gaming consoles to developers next week at the annual or Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3, as all three companies seek to entrench themselves deeper into living rooms with advanced computing, graphics and multimedia features.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.