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Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) announced earlier today in Japan that it will launch its new game console called Wii on Dec. 2nd in Japan at 25,000 yen ($212) or less than half the cost of Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3. And there is news from a Nintendo event in NYC covered by Kotaku.com that the Wii will be launched first in the U.S. on Nov. 19th priced at $249.99.

The Wii's Japan launch date and price are in-line with expectations and Nintendo's original forecast. A specific launch date wasn't given at the Japan press conference for Europe and North America but Nintendo did say it would be close to Dec. 2nd. However, with the Kotaku.com coverage of Nintendo's NYC event we now know it will launch first in the U.S. Nintendo still plans to sell 6 million units by March '07 with 4 million units sold by the end of this year. Sony's PS3 will launch on Nov. 11th in Japan (Nov. 17th in U.S.) but will have very limited supplies and a four month delay in Europe.

Before Nintendo's NYC event some gaming and tech sites were reporting a leak by The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which published a story written by the New York Times saying the Wii would launch in the U.S. on Nov. 19th for $250. Refer to Kotaku.com, which live-blogged Nintendo's NYC event for more details. Note the bloggers reported the Wii will in fact launch first in the U.S. on the 19th of Nov. priced at $249.99 and available at 25,000 retail locations.

In terms of Nintendo's competition, the cheapest PS3 to hit the shelves will cost 62,790 yen ($534) in Japan. Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox360 currently costs 39,795 yen ($338) but last week Microsoft said it will release a Core System version on November 2nd ahead of rival Sony's PS3 launch in Japan that doesn't include a hard-disk-drive, priced at 29,800 yen ($253). Microsoft is clearly attempting to take advantage of Sony's troubles (only 100,000 units available initially for Japan launch) and hopefully for its sake somehow salvage its Xbox360 flop in Japan -- only 159,000 units sold since its Dec. '05 launch. By comparison, the Reuters.com article hyperlinked in the prior sentence mentions Sony sold almost 1 million PS2 units in Japan during the first three days of its launch in 2000.

At its Japan press conference, Nintendo said it plans on having 27 Wii games available by the end of the year. And Wii features announced today in addition to gaming include: downloading game software (such as games from older Nintendo consoles for 500-1,000 yen ($4.25-$8.50) a piece)) from the Internet, reading news and weather updates using its built-in wireless LAN, and viewing and editing digital camera pictures.

The merits of its "magic wand" one-handed game controller that resembles a remote-control, as well as the historic attractiveness of its games across a broad audience have been well discussed in recent months.

Reuters.com quotes Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata who said the following at today's press conference:

"By making it quite natural for everyone in a household to use a game console on a daily basis, we are now taking a second step towards the expansion of the game population."

Nintendo's ordinary shares (Tokyo: 7974) gained 0.96% on the day to close at 23,240 yen ($24.69 ADR equivalent). Its ADRs closed yesterday at $24.55.

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Nintendo Ltd (OTCPK:NTDOY) 1-year chart:

Source: Sony's Headache: Nintendo Wii Launch Dates, Prices Announced