Microsoft Announces New Xbox Sale Date
Microsoft, trying to narrow Sony's lead in the market for video-game consoles, will begin selling its new Xbox 360 machine Nov. 22 in North America. The machine will go on sale Dec. 2 in Europe and Dec. 10 in Japan, said Mitch Koch, Xbox's vice president for worldwide retail sales and marketing. Sony's latest console, the PlayStation 3, is due for release in June.
New York Times to Charge for Columns
Beginning Monday, the New York Times will begin charging $49.95 a year to people who don't get the paper delivered at home for access to op-ed columnists such as Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich and columnists for its business, metro and sports sections. The new service, called TimesSelect, will also include access to the Times' archives, early looks at some sections of the paper, and online tools for tracking and storing articles from the Times Web site. Columnists will add extra online-only features to their articles such as discussions and extra video and audio.
The Times also plans to offer bloggers an arrangement under which they would sell subscriptions to TimesSelect on their own sites and take a share of the revenue they generate.
Disney Films Going Digital
Walt Disney agreed to release its films using a format compatible with Access Integrated Technologies' digital projection systems for theaters. AccessIT, based in Morristown, N.J., plans to install up to 4,000 digital projection systems in U.S. and Canadian theaters.
Intel to Expand Factories
Intel, the world's biggest semiconductor maker, will spend $345 million to expand two plants to meet rising demand for its chips. The expansion will raise capacity at silicon wafer fabrication factories in Hudson, Mass., and Colorado Springs, Colo., Intel said. At least 500 jobs will be created.
The plants produce chip sets and communications and memory chips. Intel Chief Financial Officer Andy D. Bryant said the company's factories won't be able to produce enough chip sets to meet demand until the fourth quarter.
S&P Raises Amazon's Credit Rating
Amazon.com had its corporate credit rating raised to BB- from B+ by Standard & Poor's, which cited the company's greater ability to generate and protect its cash flow. S&P, in a statement, said the company's outlook is stable. Amazon had total debt outstanding of $1.5 billion as of June 30, said S&P, which attributed the company's improvement to "strong sales, lean cost structure and debt reduction." Amazon generates about $7.7 billion in annual sales.
Google May Use Stock Proceeds in China
Google may expand its business in China and purchase faster computers to support new services after the company raised $4.18 billion in a stock sale. Chief executive Eric E. Schmidt and founder Sergey Brin gave hints of projects to 300 analysts and investors at an invitation-only luncheon in New York. The search engine provider is No. 2 in China but faces stiff competition from Baidu.com, which has an estimated 37 percent of the market.
Compiled from staff and news service reports.