Talking at a business forum in Shanghai, Microsoft Corporation's Chinese chief executive Tim Chen has revealed that Microsoft is hoping to launch the Xbox 360 in China in 2006, though the company did not set a specific launch date or price for the console.
While Microsoft's next-gen console launching in major territories this year, specifically streeting on November 22nd in North America, December 2nd in Europe, and December 10th in Japan, Microsoft had already announced a specific list of countries that would see the Xbox 360 in 2006, thus far naming Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan, to which China can now be added.
Obviously, it's somewhat unclear that the majority of China's workforce would be able to afford such a console - the average yearly wage of an urban worker in China in 2004 was 9,422 yuan ($1,164), and a rural worker made just 2,936 yuan ($363) per year on average. Nonetheless, Microsoft is keen to make a symbolic move into the territory, as Sony did in December 2003 when it launched the PlayStation 2 in four major Chinese cities, to as yet unrevealed sales figures. Nintendo is trying a different strategy, with its license to iQue for the release of specially branded, localized Nintendo 64, Game Boy, and even Nintendo DS products in Chinese territories.
In addition, talking to Reuters at the conference, Microsoft's Chinese head Chen commented of the relatively difficult trading situation in China with regard to game and software piracy: "With the improving intellectual property rights situation, I think there's going to be a lot of improvement in the next couple of years."
Though China will be one of the last countries to officially receive Xbox 360 consoles for retail, the majority of Microsoft's next-gen hardware will be manufactured in China and exported, according to recent reports
, which noted that the Flextronics, Wistron, Celestica manufacturing plants currently assembling the Xbox 360 are all located in the Pearl River Delta region in Southern China.