Friday roundup: pirates beware, Wii gamers despair

Avast ye pirates! The Bush Administration is accusing China, Russia and seven other countries of failing to protect American producers of movies and other entertainment from piracy. The question comes to mind: why did it take so long for the U.S. to figure this out? Also included on the list are Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela. Somehow it seems like this conversation should have taken place, oh, maybe 10 years ago?

Don’t expect Wii price cuts: Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata said the company has no plans to cut the price of its popular Wii video game console, which costs $249 in the U.S. Demand for the Wii has been so strong that the company has been able to keep it at the same price since its launch in the fall of 2006. The same goes for the Nintendo DS handheld, Iwata told Reuters. The company said earlier this week that said its operating profit more than doubled in the year ended March 31. It forecast a further 9 percent gain this year to 530 billion yen ($5.08 billion). Clearly, Nintendo is just as happy as Microsoft and Sony to milk gamers dry.

Sun swallows Montalvo: Sun Microsystems confirmed that it bought the assets of Montalvo Systems for an undisclosed price. The high-flying microprocessor design company had tried to develop low-power chips to go up against Intel, but it ran into delays finishing its chip and had to sell out for a fire-sale price. Peter Glaskowsky, former editor of the Microprocessor Report and an executive at Montalvo, mourned the end of Montalvo in a blog post. Sun declined to say how it will use the Montalvo assets. Now what is Sun going to try? It could use Montalvo to go to war with Intel, protect itself with patents, or get a good engineering team. Glakowsky, by the way, has interesting analysis of Apple’s $278 million purchase of PA Semi.

EA to release Spore creature creator June 17:
Spore is the next big game coming from Electronic Arts’ game design master Will Wright. The Spore Creature Creator tool will allow gamers to start designing their own creatures ahead of the Sept. 17 release of the big game. Gamers will be able to show off their creations and EA will get a lot of free labor. That’s because it will use the creations as rival creatures inside Spore. Thus, when you play the real game starting in September, your character will have square off against other creatures created by all of the people who use the tool. It’s another brilliant move by Wright.

Fashion venture moves forward: Online fashion company Indochino has received an undisclosed investment from Burda Digital Ventures, the venture capital arm of German media company Hubert Burda Media. Indochino will use the financing to build up its operations, according to a release from the company. Visitors to the company’s Web site, Indochino.com, can order custom-tailored men’s suits for home delivery. Boris Wertz, a principal at W Media Ventures, previously invested in Indochino and introduced the company to Burda Digital Ventures, according to the release. Indochino has offices in Victoria, British Columbia, and Shanghai.

AT&T boots T-Mobile: Clearing the way for Apple’s iPhones and iPod Touch handhelds to be used in Starbucks, AT&T began replacing T-Mobile as the Wi-Fi service provider in the Starbucks coffee houses in San Antonio. AT&T will talk more about how it will replace T-Mobile in Starbucks stores in other markets.

Skype guys raising a new fund: Skype co-founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, as well as former Skype veteran Geoffrey Prentice, are raising a new venture fund of as much as $450 million. GigaOm reports that they plan to raise a total of 300 million euros.

Dell says ignore XP end-of-life deadline: Dell said that it would keep selling Windows XP as long as customers want it, despite a deadline from Microsoft, which wants everybody to start buying new systems with Windows Vista. Microsoft has set June 30 as the deadline for selling XP to consumers.