Microsoft has confirmed that it has shipped over 3.3 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide, putting the company back on track to meet its global sales target following massive component shortages at launch.
The news, which has been confirmed by Microsoft PR, was initially reported by Dean Takahashi, a San Jose Mercury News reporter and author of two books on the Redmond giant's entry into the console gaming sector. His most recent work looks into the launch strategy of the first next-generation console and is titled The Xbox 360 Uncloaked: The Real Story Behind Microsoft's Next-Generation Videogames Console.
Takahashi claims to have been given unparalleled access to key figures with Microsoft and its relevant partners in order to research his latest book, and believes he is perfectly placed to comment on the progress of Microsoft's ambitious tri-continent hardware launch strategy, which has been plagued from the outset by component shortages and a damagingly low retail supply until recent months.
According to Takahashi, the 3.3 million figure is believed to be the number of units sold through, rather than shipped. "In any case, both of those numbers shouldn't be that far apart because the 360s are still flying off the shelves," he added.
Microsoft had initially hoped to sell six million units by the end of its fiscal year, having launched the console last November in the US, followed by an early December launch for Japan and Europe.
The company has since revised its goals, expecting to sell between 4.5 and 5 million by the same date, meaning approximately 1.7 million units will need to sold in the next couple of months - an achievement Microsoft is pushing hard to meet, ramping up production to around a million units per month throughout its various manufacturing partners.
Sony has stated that it plans to sell 6 million PlayStation 3 consoles by the end of March 2007, which - assuming the Japanese manufacturer is not impeded by similar component issues - leaves less than six months following the worldwide launch this November to achieve sales figures Microsoft has yet to attain. If successful, the year-long lead on the next-gen market that Microsoft so desperately wanted may turn out to be rather a wasted opportunity.