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Nintendo sets 24m target for next-gen GameBoy

Component shortages must be easing

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Nintendo has promised to produce 24 million GameBoy Advance handheld game consoles during the product's first year on sale - with one million of them flying through shop doors in the first ten days.

That's three times as many PlayStation 2s as Sony said it would ship in that machine's first year - and well ahead of the ten million units some analysts expect Nintendo to ship.

Nintendo's plan is clearly a very ambitious one. It's contingent on an end to the current shortage of key handheld components like Flash memory and small-format colour LCD screens.

That the shortage is coming to an end is signalled not only by Nintendo's optimistic projection, but Sony's note that it expects to launch the colour version of its PalmOS-based Clié PDA in the US during Q1 2001, around the same time that Palm is expected to unveil more colour machines of its own.

In any case, Nintendo appears to have done a deal with a major Japanese LCD producer to ensure the GameBoy Advance doesn't suffer from component shortages. "Nintendo has secured the ability to purchase liquid crystal displays (LCDs)," Takashi Oya, a senior analyst with Deutsche Securities, recently noted in a report on the company.

Nintendo will commence GameBoy Advance production early next year - another sign the LCD drought may be ending - to ensure it has sufficient machines to back the handheld's launch on 21 March. The device, based on a 32-bit ARM processor, will also offer Net access and email. Production is expected to hit two million units a month by June, a month ahead of the US and European launch. ®

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