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Microsoft Corp. revealed the number of Xbox 360 game consoles it plans to ship to the European Union at the launch on the 2nd of December, 2005. The number of game machines appears to be relatively low and is highly likely to reflect the alarming prospects of several retailers who believe that the demand towards the product would not be fulfilled.

Industry analysts’ estimates of 300 thousand Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles available at launch “were not far removed from reality”, said Chris Lewis, the Microsoft executive responsible for the Xbox in Europe, in German weekly financial newspaper Euro am Sonntag, Reuters news agency reports. While Microsoft never said how many units were shipped to the United States, it claimed that 4500 outlets across the country had the Xbox 360 in stock at the day of launch.

Analysts expect the Redmond, Washington-based software giant to ship between 1.5 million and 2 million Xbox 360 consoles to sell in the retail this year. Microsoft is aiming to sell 2.75 million to 3 million Xbox 360 units in the first 90 days after the launch date and up to 5.5 million by June 2006.

It is known that there are shortages of the game console in the U.S.: many stores have sold out all the units in stock and the demand vastly exceeds supply. Mr. Lewis acknowledged that it was possible that the same would happen in the European Union as well. It is unclear how many units are to be shipped to Japan by December 10 and whether the number will be enough to meet the demand.

The undersupply is conditioned by several factors: one of Microsoft’s contract partners is expected to start assembly of the Xbox 360 only starting from January, 2005, which means that the company may have shortages of the device. Another reason is that Microsoft has decided to launch the new gaming machine almost simultaneously across the world: the Xbox 360 started to sell on the 22nd of November in the USA, will be commercially launched in Europe on the 2nd of December and Japan customers are to get the unit on the 10th of December.

The European Union population is 456.4 million, the United States population is 292 million, Japan’s population is 127 million as of the 1st January, 2004 according to Eurostat agency.

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