January 17, 2003 11:19 AM PST

Microsoft says Xbox sales on track

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A Microsoft executive said Friday that the company is on track to meet Xbox sales targets for the current fiscal year.

Mitch Koch, vice president of retail sales for Microsoft's games division, said the company has sold 8 million Xbox units to date. With the holiday sales season over, Microsoft expects to sell about a million more by the end of the company's fiscal year June 30.

"We expect to finish our fiscal year with just over 9 million units sold worldwide," Koch said.

That would bring lifetime sales in line with the lower end of Microsoft estimates, which forecast an installed base of 9 million to 11 million Xbox units worldwide by the end of the fiscal year.

By contrast, market leader Sony announced earlier this week that worldwide shipments for its PlayStation 2 console had surpassed 50 million units.

Nintendo recently lowered sales forecasts for its GameCube console; worldwide sales are expected to be between 10 million and 12 million by March 30, the end of the company's fiscal year, boosted by strong sales in its home territory of Japan. The Xbox has been nearly invisible in Japan, selling slightly more than 300,000 units since its debut there last March.

Koch said Microsoft is still committed to making the Xbox a success in Japan and is counting on Xbox Live, the new online gaming service for the console, to help distinguish it from competitors.

The company also has high hopes for several new Asian regions where the Xbox was introduced late last year, including South Korea, which has one of the world's highest rates of broadband Internet connections in the home. Xbox Live is a broadband-only service.

"Korea has a very strong gaming culture, but it's been heavily weighted to the PC side," Koch said. "The marriage of Xbox Live and the cultural attributes in Korea we think bodes very well for the success of Xbox there."

 

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