A number of reports were recently submitted to consumer game weblog Joystiq indicating that in-store Xbox 360 game kiosks, recently installed throughout the North American Wal-Mart department store chain ahead of the console's November 22 launch date, have been turned off. This was apparently due to problems arising from the Xbox 360's wireless controllers causing interference.
The reports cited Wal-Mart employees who claimed, perhaps over-zealously, that the system interfered with everything from the store's inventory control system, through its home electronics displays and its cash registers, all the way to the store's PA system.
An official statement released by Microsoft earlier today, however, claims to pinpoint the problem with the Xbox 360 kiosks. Wal-Mart's "network-based inventory management systems can be impacted by products using modern wireless signals,” a claim borne out by some of the Wal-Mart employees noting that other wireless devices, such as wireless phones, would accomplish the same thing. Microsoft has already addressed the problem, and "a solution to this issue was developed within 24 hours of identifying the issue and we are currently deploying the fix to the affected locations.”
The problem is unlikely to affect any home technology in the way that it caused problems at Wal-Mart, since the Xbox 360 has been certified by the FCC/ETSI for operation in the 2.4GHz band. No other devices with the certification will react negatively to the system's wireless output, though non-certified devices could be at risk.