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Microsoft uncertain about Xbox 360 sales potential in 2009

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Microsoft uncertain about Xbox 360 sales potential in 2009

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft may have said that it drowned the PS3 in Black Friday sales (no word about the Wii, of course), but the company sings a different tune as soon as the topic changes to the 2009 time frame.

In an article published by Reuters, Microsoft executive Shane Kim said that the “video game business is on track to grow by 20% this year”, but that result may not be achievable in 2009 and he indicated that Microsoft may be aiming for flat growth next year. “People are not projecting that kind of growth” for 2009, he told Reuters.

“Who knows, maybe flat performance will be considered a remarkable achievement,” he added. “It’s difficult to predict the future,” but noted that the gaming industry held up well well in previous economic downturns.

The article did not say whether this number also referred to video console sales. However, if we quickly look at the U.S. console shipment numbers, it is clear that Kim was not referring to console shipment in the U.S. In fact, until the end of October, Microsoft sold less Xbox 360s than in the same time frame in 2007. NPD estimates that Microsoft sold 2,459,200 consoles between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1 of this year, while the company sold 2,588,900 units in the same time frame last year.

In comparison, Nintendo and Sony are well ahead of their 2007 results – Nintendo with 6,136,600 vs. 3,958,400 Wiis and Sony with 2,440,800 vs. 1,292,700 PS3s. That being said, it seems to be clear that both Nintendo and Sony will beat their 2007 result, while Microsoft may have a tough time duplicating its 2007 sales.

In November 2007, Microsoft sold 770,000 Xbox 360 units and in December 2007 1,260,000 (Nintendo: 981,000 and 1,350,000; Sony: 466,000 and 796,600). Total 2007 unit sales were 4,618,900 Xbox 360s, 6,289,400 Wiis and 2,555,300 PS3s.

If you enjoy these number exercises, there is an interesting note over at Gamespot, trying to figure out what Microsoft’s claims that it has sold 25% more Xboxes this Black Friday than last year as well as the claim that it outsold Sony by a factor of 3:1 may mean.

Microsoft said that 310,000 Xbox 360 units were sold during the Thanksgiving week last year. That 25% gain would mean that Microsoft should end up in the 380,000 to 390,000 range this year (which is more than the company sold in the entire month of October: 371,000). And if we assume this number is somewhat correct and that Microsoft in fact outsold Sony by a factor of 3:1 that would mean that Sony may have sold only 120,000 to 130,000 units – which would be less than the 160,000 PS3s Sony sold during the same period last year.