November 8, 2005 11:50 AM PST
Three million Xbox 360s in three months?
"We think through the first 90 days of launch...we expect to have sold 2.75 (million) to 3 million consoles worldwide," said Bryan Lee, chief financial officer of Microsoft's Home and Entertainment unit. Lee's comments came as part of a speech at the Harris Nesbitt Media & Entertainment Conference in New York. Lee said the prediction should translate to about $1.5 billion in sales of Xbox devices, games and accessories during that period.
Microsoft plans to launch the Xbox 360 in the U.S. on Nov. 22. The company will follow up quickly elsewhere in the world, with the goal to have devices on store shelves in Europe on Dec. 2 and in Japan on Dec. 10.
The company had earlier said it expects to sell 4.5 million to 5.5 million Xbox 360 consoles by the time Microsoft's fiscal year ends in June. Lee said Microsoft remains on track to hit that goal as well.
"We're building a lot right now," Lee said during his speech, which was also broadcast on the Web. "We are building thousands and thousands and thousands of 360s every day. They are on boats. They are on planes. They are in distribution centers. They are hitting retail."
According to enthusiast site ActiveWin, Microsoft plans to launch the console in the California desert during an event billed as "Burning Man meets E3"--references to a popular Nevada desert arts festival and the computer game industry's annual trade show.
Microsoft is hoping for a big splash for the Xbox 360, which is launching ahead of the rival Sony PlayStation 3.
Whereas the original Xbox was a chance for Microsoft to prove that it could make a worthwhile game product, Lee said the new console gives Microsoft an opportunity to lead. Lee acknowledged that the original Xbox was, for many at Microsoft, a learning experience.
"On the Xbox, you might say there were some opportunities for improvement," Lee said. "It was a little bit big, a little clunky and not that friendly."
He noted that it was only about 18 months between when Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer approved the Xbox project and when the console landed on store shelves.
"A lot of people like myself were kind of novices to the game space," Lee said. "It was a lot of learning on the fly. It's pretty easy to see that when you look backwards."
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