Microsoft says Xbox shipments pass 1 million

Shipments of Microsoft's new Xbox games console have passed the 1 million mark, three weeks after it was put on sale in the U.S., the company announced on Sunday.

Sales to retailers reached 1.1 million units and Microsoft said it plans to ship at least an additional 300,000 units between now and the end of the year to take total shipments since the Nov. 15 launch to around 1.4 million consoles. Microsoft has yet to announce retailer sales figures for the console although it said that its average customer is picking up "several" games when they buy a console.

A week ago Nintendo Co. Ltd. said sales of its Gamecube console, which went on sale in North America several days after the Xbox debuted, had hit 600,000 during its first two weeks on sale. The two companies are locked in a fierce battle with each other to gain dominance in the Christmas and end-of-year sales season. Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 2 is also competing although the year-old console is seen in third place at present.

As a result of the strong sales, Nintendo said Monday that it is considering increasing shipments of the Gamecube.

"Nintendo is planning to ship 4 million consoles by the end of this fiscal year because of the very good initial sales in the U.S. and good sales in Japan," said Yasuhiro Minagawa, a spokesman for Nintendo. The company's fiscal year ends in March 2002. At present however, such an increase is only under consideration and there are no concrete plans, he said.

He declined to specify whether the extra machines would be for the U.S., Japan or European market. "So far, we know we are facing shortages in the U.S. and the best sales season in Japan is in the new year after children receive Otoshidama," he said, referring to gifts of money given to children in Japan at New Year.

Nintendo has yet to launch the Gamecube in Europe and Minagawa said a launch this fiscal year, before the end of March, remains "at least a possibility."

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