Software giant Microsoft has announced its financial results for the quarter and financial year ended June 31, revealing firm figures for the global installed base of Xbox and its targets for the coming year.
By the end of the financial year, Microsoft had sold 9.4 million Xbox consoles worldwide - far, far lower than some estimates recently, which had put the figure well north of the 10 million mark, with one piece of research suggesting that it was as high as 13 million.
During fiscal 2003, Microsoft sold 5.5 million consoles, and in the next year it expects to sell between 5 and 6.6 million consoles - bringing the installed base to somewhere between 14.5 and 16 million units in total.
The figures for 2003 were helped slightly by the price cuts to the console in the last quarter, and the Home and Entertainment Division of Microsoft saw an 8 per cent rise in revenues during the quarter - bringing it to $483 million.
However, the price cut didn't have that major an effect, according to Microsoft's chief Xbox officer, Robbie Bach. "Certainly the price cut probably had some effect, though I think most people would tell you the effect has been pretty modest," he commented.
One thing which emerges very clearly from the figures is that Microsoft is distinctly struggling in territories outside North America. A massive 6.2 million of its Xbox installed base - some 66 per cent, or two thirds - resides in North America, with Asia Pacific accounting for a mere 1 million units and Europe also lagging very badly, with 2.2 million units.
It's common for industry analysts to mention how badly Xbox is doing in Japan, and how poorly GameCube is doing in Europe - but even more so than the overall sales figures (which, interestingly, put Cube and Xbox almost neck and neck on a global level, with around 9.5 million units each - so why are so many US-based analysts desperate to write off the Cube?), these figures illustrate the gulf between the PS2 and its would-be competitors. Sony has no territory in which it is weak, while the Cube and the Xbox clearly only have one territory each in which they could be considered strong (Japan for the Cube, North America for the Xbox), and are struggling elsewhere.
One very positive figure to emerge from all of this, however, is the Xbox tie ratio - which is standing at around 5:1 globally, although it's not clear whether this takes into account software which was bundled for free with the console in many territories. Microsoft expects to grow this figure significantly in the coming year, with titles like Project Gotham Racing 2 and Halo 2 on the way and likely to sell millions of copies on the system.
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