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Pick a Number


A guessing game has begun about when Microsoft Corp. will launch its Xbox video game console, with some suggesting the company will turn to the game industry's version of numerology to pick a date.

Microsoft has said only that Xbox will reach stores by year-end. The company isn't expected to announce a specific date and price until the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month in Los Angeles.

But most industry insiders expect Xbox in October or November.

Numerologists study patterns in numbers to forecast the future. For game makers, it generally goes no deeper than finding a catchy date.

Sega Corp. introduced its Dreamcast console on Sept. 9, 1999, or 9/9/99. The date of Sony's PlayStation 2 introduction in Japan could be read as 12/3/4, or March 4 of last year, which was year 12 by the Japanese calendar.

Microsoft might have an opportunity for a stand-out date if Xbox comes out in October or November. If Xbox goes on sale on the 1st, 10th, or 11th day of the month, all the numbers in the date would be ones and zeros.

Some pundits favor Oct. 11, or 10/11/01, since it can be read the same forward and backward.

Where's the Discount? Inc., the largest Internet retailer, announced this week that it will offer Adobe Systems Inc.'s eBook Reader software through its domestic Internet site and sell almost 2,000 electronic books formatted for the program.

Customers can download Adobe eBook Reader software free and purchase electronic titles, ranging from children's and travel books to business books and articles from the Harvard Business Review.

But don't expect to save money. A spot check on's Web site showed that the Adobe-compatible version of Helen Thomas' "Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times" costs $20.80, the same price as the hardcover edition. The paperback price is $11.20.

Go figure.

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