NEWS - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Xbox 360 In China?

SEOUL, South Korea — Microsoft Corp. is in no hurry as it evaluates China for a possible launch of the Xbox 360, the company official in charge of the game console for the region said Thursday. "We’re working with the government pretty actively in trying to understand what it is we need to do," said Alan Bowman, general manager of entertainment and devices for Asia Pacific and Greater China. "We’re taking a very careful approach in China." He was speaking ahead of the launch Friday of the Xbox 360 in South Korea. Similar launches are planned for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore on March 16. Japanese gamers got the Xbox 360 in December, while the product went on sale in the U.S. in late November. Bowman would offer no time frame for a possible debut in China. "It’s a very controlled environment," Bowman said. "We’re going to make sure that we make the right moves, develop the right content, have the right partnerships in place. It’s not something you want to rush in and do." Bowman vowed that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will avoid any missteps. "About two years ago Sony tried to do something there and stumbled and it’ll take them a long time to repatriate that with the government," he said. "I don’t intend to let that happen to us." Sony Corp. said in December 2003 that it was postponing the launch in China of the new version of its PlayStation 2 console, blaming an "unfavorable environment" for the delay, without elaborating. Makers of popular console games such as Sony and Nintendo Co. have been wary of launching products in mainland China, largely because of fears of piracy. Bowman said Microsoft expects to sell 5 million units of the Xbox 360 worldwide by the end of June and has already reached about half that. The company provides no breakdown for individual regions or countries.


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