Wii news channel debuts early in Japan

Nintendo launched a service on Friday that feeds national and international news headlines to its recently launched Wii console.

Nintendo Co. has started offering a new service that feeds national and international news headlines to its recently launched Wii console.

The Wii News Channel went live in Japan on Friday, a day ahead of its expected launch. The company had said it would be available in both Japan and the U.S. on Saturday.

In Japan the service carries news stories from a variety of sources through a feed from Internet portal Goo. In the U.S. the news will be provided by the Associated Press.

The service is accessible from the Wii's main menu after a software refresh. Nintendo also offers a Web browser for download, and an Internet connection is needed to use the service. A button for the news channel sits alongside another for a companion weather service which provides access forecasts and other data.

The services are part of Nintendo's attempt to make the Wii about more than just gaming. The company hopes to expand the gaming market, in part by offering useful services that encourage people to switch on their console on more frequently.

Nintendo sold 3.2 million Wii consoles worldwide in the last two months of 2006, it said Thursday. The console launched first in the U.S. on Nov. 19 and sales totalled 1.25 million units there by the end of the year. In Japan, where it debuted on Dec. 2, it had sales of 1.1 million units, and in Australia and Europe, where it went on sale within a week of the Japanese launch, sales reached 800,000 units by the end of the year.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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