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Nintendo set to delay Dolphin debut?

No mention in the company's 2000 profit forecast, anyway

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Has Nintendo delayed the launch of its upcoming next-generation games console, codenamed Dolphin? That's certainly one inference you can make from the company's latest financial results.

Nintendo's profits fell 35 per cent year on year, down from Y85.8 billion in 1998 to Y56.1 billion ($521 million). The company blamed the strength of the yen against the dollar - a factor that hit Sony's profits hard too - and weak sales of its current console, the N64.

But it said it expects to see profits rise during fiscal 2000 by 46.3 per cent on the back of strong GameBoy sales (including the upcoming GameBoy Advance, due later this year) and - surprise, surprise - Pokemon stuff.

Nintendo said it sold 17.45 million GameBoys worldwide during its 1999 fiscal year, an increase of 34 per cent on 1998's shipments, and it clearly sees that trend continuing, despite the components shortages it earlier warned might hit sales.

The issue for Dolphin watchers, however, is the absence of any mention of the console in Nintendo's 2000 profit projections. Which means the company reckons sales from late calendar 2000, when the console is due to be launched, won't have a significant impact on its overall business. Either that, or Dolphin, like the PlayStation 2 before it, will be delayed from a pre-Christmas 2000 release to March 2001.

Nintendo is expected to unveil details of the 128-bit PowerPC and ATI/ArtX-based Dolphin and its launch programme in August, according to a company spokesman cited by Reuters. ®

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