Japanese newspaper retracts Xbox 2 statements
False alarm as generally reliable source wipes egg off face.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun has withdrawn statements attributed to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer in which he said that the next-generation Xbox would arrive in 2006, stating that they were not made by Ballmer after all.
Instead, the statements were meant to reflect general expectations among analysts - and to compound the error, the paper also misprinted the year, with the analyst consensus pointing at 2005 rather than 2006.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun is generally a very reliable source for business news from the games market in the Far East, so we'll forgive them this slip-up - especially since it gave a chance to view some interesting media reaction to the statements.
Most commentators were surprised that Microsoft would risk leaving the launch of the console until 2006 (although of course, a 2006 launch in Japan could have meant a US launch in late 2005). However, others pointed out that the later Microsoft launches, the more likely it is that Xbox 2 will have an edge over PS3 and Nintendo's N5 in the power stakes, just as Xbox does in the current generation.
Naturally, there were also the crackpot theories - our favourite one being the UK website which expounded the theory that Ballmer was deliberately lying about the launch date in order to catch Sony on the back foot by giving them a false sense of security.
Anyway, there you have it - we know no more about the launch date of Xbox 2 at the start of this week than we did at the start of last week. Sorry for the false alarm.