Nintendo's GameCube to promote Big Blue

Nintendo will show off its GameCube in Tokyo on Thursday, and announce that each video game console will sport a logo promoting IBM.

IBM's newest business partner is a mustachioed Italian plumber with gorilla issues.

Mario Bros creator Nintendo will show off its GameCube in Tokyo on Thursday. Joining Nintendo on stage will be Big Blue, announcing that each video game console will sport a logo promoting IBM.

IBM's PowerPC processor will power the console, which is scheduled for release Sept 14 in Japan and Nov 5 in North America. And each GameCube will bear an "IBM Technology" emblem, a first for Big Blue as it tries to boost its profile as a supplier of technology components.

Although IBM is best known for branded products such as its ThinkPad laptops, it also supplies chips and other parts for a number of outside companies. Its PowerPC chips run devices ranging from television set-top boxes to mobile phones.

IBM wants to keep its brand strong and help give manufacturing partners an edge as computing continues to move beyond the PC to special-function devices, said Mark Lefebvre, director of marketing for IBM Microelectronics. He said that after its debut on the GameCube, the "IBM Technology" label will appear on a variety of devices, such as mobile phones, digital cameras and handheld computers.

IBM will work together on marketing with some manufacturers. "The end user in the consumer space is not necessarily concerned about the specific technology," he said. "But they do identify with the idea that IBM represents quality and innovation in technology, so the IBM name carries some weight when they make a purchasing decision."

Nintendo is relying on the GameCube to help it maintain its No 2 position in the video game market as competition heats up. Microsoft will enter the market Nov 8 with its Xbox console.

The GameCube is on display this week in Tokyo at Space World, Nintendo's annual fan fair and media event.

Analysts see GameCube as a worthy competitor to Xbox and Sony's already-popular PlayStation 2 for a number of reasons, including game software based on exclusive Nintendo characters such as Mario Bros. and Pokemon.

At US$199, the GameCube will cost US$100 less than its two competitors. It will also connect to Nintendo's market-leading GameBoy Advance portable game player.

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