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Report: Xbox to Exploit PS3 Delay

21 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer believes the delayed launch of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 until November could make Xbox 360 the top video game console of its generation.

In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, Ballmer said with previous console launches the first company to reach 10 million unit sales was the undisputed market leader.

“Did we just get an even better opportunity to be the first guy to 10 million?” asked Ballmer. “Yeah, of course we did.”

Xbox Live, Microsoft's digital download service for 360 users, has already topped 10 million downloads ranging from game demos and arcades titles to movie trailers and music videos.

Microsoft last week began shipping three times the weekly allotment of 360 consoles to retailers. The company expects to launch 80 new games by June, including soccer-themed 2006 FIFA World Cup (EA Sports), Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (Electronic Arts), Blazing Angels (Ubisoft), Burnout: Revenge (Electronic Arts) and Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires (KOEI).

Ballmer had earlier stated he had no plans to increase shipments of Xbox, despite past production problems that reportedly contributed to first-month unit sales of just 600,000 — significantly fewer than analysts had projected.

Ballmer expects Xbox 360 sales to top 5 million units by June.

The CEO dismissed the PS3's perceived advantage over 360 due to the former's inclusion of Blu-ray next-generation optical disc technology. Microsoft is expected to bow an HD DVD add-on to the Xbox later this year.

“I don't care whether it's Blu-ray or HD DVD, there's not going to be a lot of content in either format this year,” Ballmer said.

Despite the rhetoric, PlayStation reportedly dominated Xbox in hardware sales, topping 101 million PlayStation 2 units in 2005, compared to 24 million Xbox units, according to investment firm UBS. PS2 sold 1.4 million units last December despite the launch of 360.

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