Following the official announcement of the delay in launch plans for Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has welcomed the opportunity to capitalise on the next-generation market with the Xbox 360.
In a recent interview with Fortune magazine, excerpts of which have been made available online prior to newsstand publication, Ballmer admitted that Sony has handed its rival a unique opportunity to snatch and secure the market lead in the videogames console sector.
"In every other generation, the first guy to 10 million consoles was the number one seller in the generation," Ballmer told Fortune.
"Did we just get an even better opportunity to be the first guy to 10 million? Yeah, of course we did."
Despite his obvious enthusiasm over Sony's news, Ballmer admitted that there are still component shortages which are creating a production bottleneck for the Xbox 360 - further extending the company's much publicised stock shortages that have plagued the machine since its launch last year.
Although retail supplies have continually improved since Christmas, Peter Moore's comments at the DICE Summit that "Within the next four to six weeks, anybody will be able to walk into a store and buy an Xbox 360" seem overly optimistic some five weeks later.
Commenting on the company's previous target of selling 5 million units by June, Ballmer told Fortune: "We're sort-of on track," conceding: "It would've been nice at Christmas to have one for everyone who wanted one." The company continues to push production to its limit, and hopes that the breathing space afforded them by Sony will give the Xbox 360 more than enough time to establish a lead in the console market.
The company plans a major push to expand the console's customer base in France, Spain, Italy and the company's least successful market traditionally - Japan. Ballmer also commented on the differences in technology, claiming Sony will use Blu-Ray as a key marketing and sales advantage, but remains confident of a success for Microsoft.
"Sony's going to try and define [Blu-Ray] as a fundamental battleground, but I don't think it is a fundamental battleground," he stated. "I don't care whether it's Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, there's not going to be a lot of content in either format this year."
Concluding the interview in true form, Ballmer stated: "I am palpably optimistic. I think we are absolutely in the game for the market position it would be nice to have."