Microsoft to increase Xbox 360 shipments

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Microsoft has indicated that it will increase supplies of its Xbox 360 games console to retailers by two to three times, beginning this week.

Problems in ramping production of the next generation console have meant Microsoft has fallen short of meeting demand for the product since its launch last November. Analysts estimated only 1.3m units shipped worldwide by the end of 2005 and predicted Microsoft would miss its target of 3m units shipped by the end of last month.

Microsoft has fallen back to a target of 4.5m to 5.5m units to be shipped by its fiscal year-end in June, a figure that looks achievable now that component shortages have been resolved. “With component supplies in full production and third manufacturing partner Celestica now producing the next-generation console, along with Wistron and Flextronics, Microsoft is producing more Xbox 360 consoles than ever,” the company said.

A number of “blockbuster games” were also on the way this spring. Publishers have held off releasing some of their major titles until a large enough installed base of Xbox 360 owners is in place to ensure decent sales.

Microsoft highlighted The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from 2K Games as a title that would bring out the best in the high-definition graphics and said cyber-heroine Lara Croft would make her next-generation debut in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.

“Today, we have turned a major corner,” said Peter Moore, vice-president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. “With more consoles on their way to retail, 80 games available by June, and new content and experiences.”

The Xbox 360 will have a lead of a year over rival PlayStation 3, after Sony said last week its console was being delayed until November.

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