Xbox 360 to be under AU$400?

Microsoft's J Allard tells that Microsoft's next-gen console "will be in the neighbourhood" of US$299 (AU$395.74).

Microsoft's J Allard tells that Microsoft's next-gen console "will be in the neighbourhood" of US$299 (AU$395.74).

The dwindling fog around Microsoft's launch plans for the Xbox 360 dissipated further last week when the likely price of the Xbox 360 was revealed. Speaking to the financial news site, Microsoft corporate vice president and chief XNA architect J Allard was asked if the Xbox 360 would launch with the same US$299 (AU$395.74) price tag as the original. "It's going to be in the neighborhood (of US$300)," he said, apparently dispelling fears of a US$399 (AU$528) or even US$499 (AU$660.40) machine, although US$350 (AU$463) - -or even US$360 (AU$476.30) -- could still be possible. However, Allard also stressed that any final decision on the 360's price was "about two months away".

Meanwhile, the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail ran an article profiling Cimtek, a small company specialising in quality assurance testing at a Chinese electronics plants. Burlington, Ontario-based Cimtek recently landed a monster contract to help oversee production of the Xbox 360 in Guangdong Province, in the south of China.

Speaking to the The Globe and Mail, Cimtek vice president of operations Craig Thornton outlined the Xbox 360 manufacturing plan, saying that the console would be in " preliminary build stage until July," after which the console will enter the product-validation phase before "hitting full-scale production in September".

Then Thornton let slip the Xbox 360's target ship date, saying of Microsoft, "They have a huge mandate for getting (the Xbox) out for Thanksgiving this year." His comments appear to confirm the November launch date accidentally posted on MTV prior to the May 12 Xbox 360 unveiling on the network. It also further cements speculation that the console would hit the market in mid-November, around the anniversary of the release of the first Xbox in 2001.

Whatever its exact price or launch date may be, the Xbox 360 looks set to arrive before the end of 2005 worldwide, despite the early 2006 date local Microsoft execs are spruiking. "We will be launching the next generation of Xbox in North America and Europe and Japan this holiday season," chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach told and earlier this year.

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