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Fri, Sep 16, 2005 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Gaming
Xbox in time for Xmas

The next version of Microsoft Corp's Xbox game console will be available in the US two days before the American Thanksgiving holiday, in time for the Christmas shopping season, the company said. The Nov. 22 launch of Xbox 360 in North America will be followed by a Dec. 2 launch in Europe and a Dec. 10 launch in Japan. The releases will allow the Redmond-based software maker to get a head start over rival Sony's PlayStation 3, which is slated to replace the market-leading PlayStation 2 next spring. The Japanese unit will cost ¥37,900, or about US$345 -- slightly less than the US$399.99 the company is charging in the US, Canada and Mexico. Microsoft had previously disclosed the US price, as well as the European price of euro399.99 (US$492.55).

■ China

PetroChina plans expansion

China's largest oil and gas company, PetroChina, says it plans to spend up to 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) to expand its network of oil and gas pipelines over the next five years to meet soaring demand. Much of the 15,000km of new pipelines will be located in the southwest, northwest and northeast, part of an effort to reach more end users and beef up PetroChina Co's refining business, the company said in a statement yesterday. PetroChina is the listed arm of China's largest oil and gas producer, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), with shares traded in Hong Kong and New York. The plan include a cross-border pipeline to transport crude oil to PetroChina refineries from PetroKazakhstan, which was recently acquired by CNPC for US$4.2 billion, the official China Daily cited an unnamed company official as saying.

■ Japan

`Friendly' robot goes on sale

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd says their new Internet-linked robot "Wakamaru," unveiled yesterday, has a friendly personality that could make her a much-loved member of the family. "We have tried to create a robot you can have a relationship with, just like a human," said technical team leader Ken Onishi, who said that while none of her individual features are revolutionary, putting them together in one cute package was a mammoth task. Able to recognize up to 10 people and call them by name, the 1m tall Wakamaru will approach and greet family members in a gentle, feminine voice when they arrive home and offer to pass on telephone messages or read out any e-mails that may have arrived. A limited edition of 100 robots goes on sale in Tokyo today, at a cost of ¥1.575 million (US$14,260), with a monthly maintenance charge of around ¥10,000.

■ Cellphones

Nokia starts mobile e-mail

Nokia Corp is joining a suddenly crowded field of BlackBerry rivals, becoming the first major cellphone maker to weigh into the mobile e-mail market with its own brand and service. The Finnish company said the new application, Nokia Business Center, will join rather than replace the existing lineup of mobile e-mail and productivity options available on Nokia devices. Those include BlackBerry from Research in Motion Ltd, GoodLink from Good Technology Inc, and applications from Seven Networks Inc and Visto Corp. Much like those players, Nokia plans to offer the new service through wireless carriers, beginning in the fourth quarter.

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