Nintendo reports first half loss

And talks about its new console - which isn't the successor to GameCube or GBA.

Japanese giant Nintendo has announced a loss for the first half of 2003, as expected, and has reiterated its plan to launch an innovative new game product next year - with an official unveiling expected at E3.

Nintendo has talked about this new product in the past, and the only new information contained in the company's financial announcement is that it will be unveiled at E3, with a view to launching in Japan by the end of 2004.

This product is not a successor to either of the company's current consoles (the GBA SP or the GameCube), according to managing director Yoshihiro Mori, and as such certainly isn't the N5 - the codename much of the web seems to have adopted for the company's next home console.

Speculation on what the device may be is fairly pointless at this moment in time, since no information about it has been made available other than that it is "innovative". Senior Nintendo officials have been heard to lament recently that the company didn't implement the EyeToy concept before Sony did, stating that it's the sort of innovative gameplay concept Nintendo should be pursuing - this being, after all, the company that gave us handheld gaming, the D-Pad and the ill-fated but ambitious Virtual Boy, along with a host of other clever original ideas through the years.

The company reaffirmed its intent to launch this new mystery device while announcing its first-ever loss, as predicted several weeks ago. The loss, which is attributed largely to fluctuations in the currency market which affected the company's huge overseas assets, was in the order of 2.89 billion Yen (€22.8 million), although revenues rose slightly to reach 211.68 billion Yen (€1.67 billion).

However, despite this setback, Nintendo is sticking to its projections for the full year, which forecast a net profit of 60 billion Yen (€473.2 million) on revenues of 550 billion Yen (€4.34 billion) - a slight reduction from last years figure, but a massive profit nonetheless.

The lack of information about the company's new product hasn't really stemmed speculation, with many commentators postulating that the new device will be a new "toy" console of some description, pitched at a low price point and designed not to compete directly with the Cube, PS2 and Xbox. If we were to chip in our two pence at this point, we'd suggest that the company's experimentation with digital content delivery at retail, in the form of booths that can download GBA games to your system in Japan and the forthcoming iQue in China, might point the direction that the company hopes to take.

However, since even Nintendo of America marketing boss George Harrison admitted last week that he has no idea what the new product is, any guesswork at this point in time can't even be described as educated guessing. Nintendo is playing its cards characteristically close to its chest - we'd be surprised if anyone manages to find out what exactly the company is planning ahead of the official unveiling next May.

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