The next home console from Nintendo will be shown off in public at E3 2005, according to comments from senior company executives quoted in a report in Japanese daily newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.
The news follows intense speculation earlier this week concerning Nintendo's future intentions in the home console market, after another Japanese newspaper - Nihon Keizai Shimbun - and several western media sources misinterpreted statements from company president Satoru Iwata as implying that the company had postponed plans to launch a new hardware platform.
Nintendo's hand has undoubtedly been forced by that speculation, with NCL PR boss Yasuhiro Minagawa explaining that "it [Iwata's comment] was supposed to mean that Sony and Microsoft are expected to release their next-generation consoles from 2005 to 2006, and we also won't be releasing one until that period."
Minagawa went further than that, however, giving a bit of insight into the company's thinking on the next-generation N5 platform. "Like our Nintendo DS portable game machine, our home game machine must offer an experience that can be enjoyed by adults, children, or women," he commented, and then revealed that "we would like to show this at E3 next spring."
This timescale won't come as a surprise to many people. It's widely expected that all three next-generation consoles will arrive in 2006 - although recent reports have suggested that Microsoft may attempt to steal a march by launching in late 2005 - and that would tie in with a public unveiling of N5 at E3 in mid-2005.
It's known that the N5 will be based on a PowerPC type chip from IBM, quite possibly very similar to the processors being used in the Xbox 2, while the graphics chipset will be provided by ATI - again, the same supplier being used by Microsoft for Xbox 2. However, despite the similar architecture, there's nothing to suggest that Nintendo and Microsoft are building compatible hardware, or that Nintendo plans to use a rebranded Xbox 2 as the base platform for N5.
Microsoft is expected to announce the existence of Xbox 2, along with a limited set of outline specifications, (allegedly codenamed Xenon) at the Game Developers Conference next March, but it seems unlikely that a full public unveiling of the console will happen until late this year. Many commentators seem convinced that Sony will reveal PS3 at E3 in May, but with the company's focus firmly on exploiting the PS2 platform and launching PSP, it seems unlikely that PS3 will debut this year.