Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Game on!

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Nintendo still expects to make $4 billion this year and Sony to lose over $600 million, but last week may ultimately be remembered as a crossroads where each firm’s fortunes began to change directions, or at least when a 15-year battle for gaming supremacy again became competitive.

 

Electronics conglomerate Sony trimmed its overall loss forecast on Friday, while some of last quarter’s bleeding was attributed to what is now seen as its successful price cut for the PlayStation 3 console, jolting the PS3 ahead of its Kyoto-based rival’s Wii in monthly sales.

Nintendo, meanwhile, saw profit and sales declining at its earnings on Thursday with the main panacea a bigger screen handheld DSi LL console coming in late November, a move industry-watchers say is certain to diversify consumers’ handheld options but by itself won’t counter growing ennu-Wii.

On Friday, shares of each underscored investors’ views on whether a shrinking loss or slowing profit was more attractive, with Sony bought before its statement and Nintendo sold after its numbers.

3D images you can touch

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In Sci-Fi films, there’s one thing you never see people use: a mouse and keyboard. In our 21st century world, technology is supposed to have advanced to where all you need to do is talk to a computer for it to respond.

Well, reality may now be catching up with fantasy as a Tokyo University research team takes the first step towards redefining how we interact with electronic machines.

Sony game changer, or Game Over?

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Sony unveiled its leaner, meaner and — most importantly – cheaper PlayStation 3 in Tokyo Wednesday after a gamescon debut in Europe, but it offered little beyond a quick glimpse of what it hopes will stop the money-bleeding of arguably one of the most troubled products in its history.

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After rising to industry dominance with its PlayStation and PS2 consoles, Sony’s gaming unit grew to account for 60 percent of the conglomerate’s profit, and its chief, Ken Kutaragi, was seen as a possible future CEO.

Nintendo’s game face

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After a long spell in the gilded kingdom of record profits, Nintendo, the 120-year-old creator of Mario and Zelda, is again having to dodge barrels such as a high yen and consumers’ eternal quest for new kit. Its returns are slowing, though they are still to be envied with the firm forecasting $5 billion for the year ahead.

 

Last month company President Satoru Iwata told Tokyo journalists that Japan’s enthusiasm for its Wii was waning mildly. But he promised more software titles and said a new console would come when design wizard Shigeru Miyamoto ran out of ideas for the current hardware.

Discounting Japan

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As Japan’s economy slips back towards deflation, the country’s price-cut kings are raking it in. The latest Forbes wealthiest list for Japan was headed by those running companies offering discount clothes, discount shoes, discount broking, discount drugs – and for people without the funds to take advantage of all the discounts — a consumer lender at far-from-discount interest rates. 

Forbes said the nation’s richest man was Tadashi Yanai, worth $6.1 billion and quarter owner of seemingly recession-proof clothing retailer Uniqlo. Yanai saw a $1.4 billion jump in his fortune after a huge surge in company shares despite the economy shrinking faster than it has in decades. 

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