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Even though Microsoft Corp. was 12 months ahead of Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3) with its Xbox 360 and is more than likely to outsell its main rival this holiday season, in the long-term the console from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) will sell in much higher quantities worldwide, said Strategy Analytics research firm.

“Sony will sell everything it can make of its new system. But Microsoft has already had a year in the market to cream off early adopters, so the next few weeks will demonstrate how much pent-up demand there really is for the Xbox 360, and how many disappointed PS3 buyers are willing to switch camps,” said David Mercer, principal analyst for Strategy Analytics.

The report from the company predicts global sales of nearly 9 million next-generation games consoles – Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 – during the last quarter of 2006. According to Strategy Analytics, Xbox 360 will remain the leading system through most of 2007 but the PS3 will be catching up by the end of the year and is still set to become the dominant platform of the next generation.

The report predicts that more than 120 million PS3s will be sold through 2012, compared to 60 million Xbox 360s and 23 million Nintendo Wiis. North America will account for more than 50% of all console sales over this period.

Other analyst firm, Yankee Group has predicted that by 2011 SCEI was likely to sell about 30 million PS3 units and account for 44% of cumulative third-generation console sales in North America. Comparatively, Microsoft is expected to supply nearly 27 million units by 2011, accounting for 40% of the market and Nintendo was projected to ship just over 11 million units, accounting for 16% of the market.

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