Quick hits

Nintendo rethinks the game controller

Nintendo Co. Ltd. will offer a game controller with its upcoming Revolution games console that is drastically different from those used in previous consoles. The controller looks a little like a television remote control and will allow people to play games with just one hand, said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo during a keynote speech at the Tokyo Game Show last month. The unit mixes buttons and motion sensors so games can be controlled through a combination of pressing buttons and also waving the controller around in the air. Simulations of the controller being used in a number of different games were shown during a video shown at the keynote. It was swung in a baseball game as someone would swing a bat, stabbed into space to kill imaginary bugs as someone might use a fly swatter and swung from side to side to control a tennis game on screen. There’s an add-on unit, connected via a short cable to the main unit. It was simulated being used in a first-person shooter game, of the type that’s very popular in the U.S. The main controller was held in the hand and pointed while the secondary controller was held in the other hand and became the gun’s trigger. The new style controller is part of Nintendo’s drive to expand the gaming population and with the hopes it will be less intimidating for non-gamers to pick up.

Palm’s Windows Treo to arrive in early 2006

As expected, Palm Inc. unveiled a forthcoming Treo smart phone running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile 5.0 at a press conference in San Francisco late last month. The device will be available in North America early next year. Few specific details about the device were released, but Palm president and chief executive officer Ed Colligan called the Windows Treo a “historic” product that the company hopes will help it become a supplier to IT departments around the world. The Treos combine the functionality of a PDA (personal digital assistant) with the ability to make phone calls and browse the Internet. Colligan was joined on stage by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and Verizon Wireless Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Denny Strigl, whose company will be the exclusive provider of the Windows Treo for several months. The companies have been working on the product for several years, Colligan said, but word of the device had trickled out on handheld enthusiast Web sites like Engadget (http://www.engadget.com) over the last few months. Palm’s Treo 600 and 650 have been hot sellers, but most of them have been bought by individuals for personal use. The devices run the venerable Palm OS, which has been the exclusive operating system for Palm’s devices since the company’s inception. However, Windows Mobile 5.0 allows users to hook their Treos into their corporate Exchange e-mail servers and deploy corporate applications written for Windows on the phone, Colligan said. Microsoft believes that eventually all professionals will have a phone that allows them to access their e-mail, Gates said. This device will allow Microsoft to tap into the growing demand for Palm’s devices, he said.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs slams ‘greedy’ labels

Speaking to the press last month, Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs slammed some music labels, calling them “greedy”. Recent reports have revealed some labels have been attempting to force Apple to change the prices it charges on iTunes. And one label wants higher prices, confirmed Jobs. And Jobs is putting up a fight. “The problem is we are still competing with piracy,” he said. “The labels make more money from selling tracks on iTunes than when they sell a CD. There are no marketing costs for them. We are competing with piracy, so it needs to be a fair price: If the price goes up people will go back to piracy,” he warned. With iTunes seeing “about 75 per cent” of its song catalogue — including back catalogue items — selling at least once a month, for copyright holders, at least, money must be rolling in. On raising prices an emphatic Jobs said: “If they want to raise prices they are getting greedy.”

QuickLink 052119