Microsoft to double Xbox 360 shipments this week
NEW YORK, Mar 22 (Reuters) Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said it plans to boost shipments of its Xbox 360 video game console by ''two to three times'' this week to address shortages that have crimped game sales across the industry.
The increase in shipments comes a week after rival Sony Corp. announced it would delay the launch of its much-anticipated PlayStation 3 game machine until November to finalize standards for the Blue-ray Disc drive, a next-generation DVD player that will be included in PS3.
Microsoft said it can ramp up Xbox 360 shipments now that its supply of components is in full production and a third contract manufacturer, Celestica Inc., is now making consoles along with Wistron Corp. and Flextronics International Ltd.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said Sony's six-month delay did not play a role in its decision to boost shipments.
The software giant's game console is widely viewed as a crucial product that underscores its commitment to play a big role in delivering entertainment and media in the living room.
Initially, Microsoft hoped to sell 2.75 million to 3 million consoles in the first 90 days after the product's U.S.
launch in November.
The company later reduced that target to 2.5 million consoles due to supply delays but said it still aimed to sell 4.5 million to 5.5 million units by the end of June.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is trying to turn the tables on Sony, which currently dominates the video game console market with a share of about 70 per cent with its PlayStation 2.
Sony used a head start on the original Xbox to carve out a leading position in the console market, prompting Microsoft executives to pledge not to get beat to market by Sony again.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate plans a simultaneous global launch in November, pitting Xbox 360 against the PS3 during the holiday shopping season when the game industry earns most of its money.
Microsoft also said on Tuesday that Xbox Live, the online download accessible by the console, has logged more than 10 million downloads, which it said was ''faster than iTunes did when it launched.'' More than 85 per cent of Xbox 360 consoles that are connected to the Internet have downloaded games, trailers and videos from the service.
Shares of Microsoft gained a penny to .90 on the Nasdaq.
REUTERS SD SND1512