Redmond (WA) – Eager to begin capitalizing on Sony’s announced delay of its PlayStation 3 console release until November, Microsoft this morning is adopting a more offensive posture, announcing this morning that inventories of its Xbox 360 are likely to surge, now that all three of its contracted manufacturers – Flextronics, Wistron, and newly added Celestica – are now running at full production.
Conceivably, the news could imply that these factories were not in full production to this point. At any rate, expect availability of the console through retailers to increase, says Microsoft’s corporate vice president for interactive entertainment, Peter Moore, now that “today we have turned a corner.” Among the facts left unsaid by this morning’s statement are any projections of output quantity from Microsoft’s three factories.
Perhaps even more importantly, though, is the fact that a big chunk of Microsoft’s new output is now headed to Australia, where the console makes its nationwide premiere at midnight tonight. An IDC analyst quoted in tomorrow’s Sydney Morning Herald expects Microsoft to sell approximately 270,000 Xbox 360 consoles in Australia by the end of this year. Such sales would give a substantial boost to a console that had been touted as being capable of selling a million units per month, prior to its launch last November, but whose estimates of worldwide sales, on average, have been curiously fixed at about 600,000 units for the last few months.
Leading Microsoft’s aggressive new spin campaign this morning is CEO Steve Ballmer, who tells Fortune magazine that Xbox 360 is a lot closer than PlayStation 3 to reaching the magic number of 10 million consoles sold. The quote of the day from Ballmer, being repeated as a headline unto itself by some industry news sources, is that Xbox 360 now is “sort of on track.”
Whether Microsoft’s claims of broader availability hold true, at least insofar as online retailers are concerned, can now be tracked on a minute-by-minute basis, thanks to the ingenuity of an intrepid blogger. Xbox 360 Live Inventory periodically queries the online catalogs of most of the US’ major warehouses. As of this morning, the site reported that both Core and Premium editions of the console were available through eBay, CompUSA, and Overstock.com, but were sold out at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Barnes&Noble.