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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 09:57 GMT
Microsoft acts on Xbox shortages
Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website in Las Vegas

Man holding up his new Xbox 360
Not everyone has been able to get hold of an Xbox 360
Microsoft has addressed criticism about shortages of its Xbox 360 by announcing a third manufacturing partner.

The company faced the ire of frustrated gamers last month as limited supplies of the new console quickly sold out.

Speaking on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Xbox's Peter Moore said Microsoft was trying hard to meet demand.

The Xbox 360 is the first of a new generation of games consoles.

It went on sale in the US in November, and in Europe and Japan in December.

More games

The ambitious global launch of the console led to severe shortages, especially in the US and the UK.

Limited stocks meant many gamers were left empty-handed as shops quickly sold out of their Xbox 360s.

"We are working to deliver consoles as quickly as we can manufacture them," said Mr Moore.

Man playing game on an Xbox 360
50 games will be available for Xbox 360 by summer

As part of its efforts, Mr Moore said Microsoft had signed up a third company to make the Xbox 360.

Celestica will join Microsoft's existing manufacturing partners Flextronics and Wistron to help meet high demand for the console.

Mr Moore also addressed concerns about the limited number of games for the console, saying 50 titles would be available by June.

While he did not say how many consoles had been sold since launch, he said Microsoft was on track to ship between 4.5 million and 5.5 million consoles by the end of June.

Online gamers

Microsoft's decision to offer limited free access to its online gaming service, Xbox Live, appears to have paid off.

More than 50% of 360s are connected to Live, compared to 10% of the original Xbox, said Mr Moore.

Although a free subscription does not allow people to play games, they can access Microsoft's Marketplace and download movie trailers, demo games and music.

This strategy also seems to be working. Mr Moore said there had been more than four million downloads in the four weeks since launch.

The Xbox executive also announced that Microsoft would be releasing a high definition HD DVD external drive for the 360 later this year. The console itself just has a standard DVD player.

Microsoft hopes to steal a march of its competitors by being first out of the gate with the Xbox 360.

Sony has said its PlayStation 3 will out in the spring and Nintendo is also planning to release its Revolution this year.




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