It could be game-over for Microsoft Corp after it launches the Xbox console in Japan tomorrow, as stronger Japanese rivals crush the US computer giant's quest to conquer the video-game industry, analysts said. \n"The foray into the gaming business is the biggest challenge for Microsoft in the 21st century and Microsoft has the financial power to meet such a challenge," said Hirohisa Oura, local managing director of the firm's Japanese arm. "We will make this year the year of the Xbox." \nXbox will compete directly against Sony Corp's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Co Ltd's GameCube on their home turf -- a near-impossible challenge, according to analysts. \n"It seems there is almost no chance of Xbox becoming a major player in Japan," said Marusan Securities analyst Junji Nakauchi. "The domestic market will be where Nintendo and Sony engage in head-to-head battle." \nMicrosoft surprised skeptics when it sold 1.5 million Xboxes after launching the console in the US last November, while Nintendo has only shipped around 1.4 million GameCube machines there. \nBut in December alone, Sony sold around 2.5 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles in North America and five million worldwide. \n"Judging by the available information, Xbox is unlikely to become an immediate threat to the PS2 or GameCube in Japan," said Tokyo Mitsubishi Securities senior analyst Nobumasa Morimoto. \n"We should not be too euphoric about the start-up of Xbox in Japan, and we should not make hasty decisions on the likelihood of success in making inroads into the Japanese games market just because of the initial sales," he said. \nAnalysts estimate Microsoft will ship around 300,000 Xbox consoles to Japan for the launch, compared with the 980,000 machines released at the debut of PlayStation 2 in 2000, and 450,000 for GameCube. \n"In Japan it will be difficult for Microsoft at the start," said BNP Paribas game and media analyst Takeshi Tajima. \n"The price-tag for Xbox is too expensive, it's pricing itself out of the market, also it does not have enough title games," he said. \nThe Xbox will cost ?34,800 (US$262) compared with ?29,800 for PlayStation 2 and ?24,800 for GameCube. But you pay for an array of special functions, including a built in hard-drive to download games faster, and Internet access, said Microsoft's Oura. \n"Although the price sounds higher than others, Xbox has pre-installed online functions ... and the most advanced graphic technology," he said. "We would like to create an online game world like Jurassic Park." \nBut Microsoft's machine will have a mere 12 games titles at first -- against over 400 on PlayStation 2 -- with only three exclusive to Xbox, analysts said. \n"Most are just remodeled versions of games for other consoles," said Mizuho Investors Securities analyst Satoshi Kurihara. "Overall, I see almost no `killer' title to attract consumers." \nMicrosoft may also loose out because -- at about 30cm wide, 30cm deep and 10cm high -- Xbox dwarfs rival consoles and would be harder to fit in the small apartments of typical young games players in Japan, analysts said. \nNews of Xbox's imminent arrival failed to ruffle the feathers of the competition. \n"We are not worried at all," said Koichihiro Katsurayama, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment. "We shall keep developing our product by introducing new software." \nNintendo was equally calm. "It won't be a problem," said a spokeswoman. \nMicrosoft must slash its prices fast for Xbox to stand a chance at wrestling market share from PlayStation 2 and GameCube, said BNP Paribas' Tajima. \nBut despite the negative speculation, the US firm remained adamant its debut in Japan -- the world's second-largest video-game market -- would be a success. \n"[It] is the key milestone for the overall Xbox business worldwide," the firm said. Xbox will hit European shores on March 14.
A TAIWAN FIRST: The duo are the first badminton players from Taiwan to climb an Olympic podium, and Tai Tzu-ying has a shot at doing the same today Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) yesterday won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport when they prevailed over a third-seeded Chinese pair in the final of the men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. Lee and Wang, both first-time Olympians, defeated Liu Yuchen (劉雨辰) and Li Junhui (李俊慧) 21-18, 21-12 in a 34-minute final at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza. As of yesterday, Taiwan had bagged seven medals in Tokyo — two golds, two silvers and three bronzes — topping its previous best of five medals in 2000 and 2004. Taiwan moved to No. 17 in the
NO ‘ONE CHINA’ LIE: The appropriations act passed the US House of Representatives with a vote of 217-212, but still needs Senate approval and the president’s signature The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a foreign assistance spending bill with an amendment forbidding that funds be used to create, procure or display maps depicting Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China. The amendment was introduced by five Republican representatives — Tom Tiffany, Steve Chabot, Scott Perry, Kat Cammack and Mike Gallagher — and passed unanimously in a bundle with a dozen other amendments. “This is a common sense measure,” Tiffany said, speaking on the House floor on Wednesday. “As we all know, Taiwan has never been part of communist China. The Taiwanese people elect their
‘TEAM TAIWAN’: Taiwanese athletes have performed admirably and raised the nation’s profile, but many abroad still think they are Chinese, an advocate said Advocacy groups have called for the national team to compete under the name “Taiwan” at the Tokyo Olympics, while former Olympian Chi Cheng (紀政) has launched another referendum petition on the issue. Taiwanese athletes have performed outstandingly at the Olympics and have raised the nation’s profile on the world stage, Northern Taiwan Society chairman Lee Chuan-hsin (李川信) said on Friday. “Many foreign news agencies, including Japan’s NHK, have called our delegation ‘Taiwan’ instead of ‘Chinese Taipei.’ Therefore our own people and politicians should also speak of ‘Team Taiwan’ and Taiwanese athletes,” he said. “However, in Taiwan, most of the time the Taiwanese team
THE HOME TEAM: DPP Legislator Kao Chia-yu said she canceled her booking for an AstraZeneca shot as soon as she heard that the Medigen vaccine was an option President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that she would get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗). Tsai wrote on Facebook that she had registered for her first vaccine dose using the national online COVID-19 vaccination booking system, which allows people to indicate their preferred vaccine brand and to make an appointment when the shot becomes available. Tsai said that she opted for the Medigen vaccine — one of three now available on the system, along with the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines — even though Medigen has yet to deliver any doses or provide a