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Microsoft to miss first-day Xbox shipments by half – analysts

Games publisher suggests as much too

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Microsoft isn't going to sell as many Xboxes on 8 November - the day of the console's launch - as it thinks it will. The plan is to ship 600,000-800,000 machines on the first day, but analysts put the figure at around half that.

Microsoft, of course, isn't saying anything, and it's lack of denial can perhaps be seen as evidence that it knows it's not going to meet its publicly announced targets after all.

Suggestions that the software giant might be having problems were first made last month by Eric Ross of Thomas Wiesel Partners. Ross' sources said Microsoft's manufacturing programme was three to four weeks behind schedule thanks to a glitch in the Xbox mobo, made by Intel.

There's plenty of time between August and 8 November to ramp up production, however, and a month-long slip wasn't then seen as too much of a problem.

More recently, though, retailers and game publishers have hinted that the number of boxes Microsoft will ship for the launch will be fewer than planned, says Morgan Keegan analyst Robert DeLean. And t'other day Gerard Klauer Mattison analyst Edward Williams told clients that Microsoft will ship only 300,000-400,000 Xboxes on day one.

And now Take-Two Interactive Software president Paul Eibeler has just said publicly that he's heard the targets will not be met. "We have heard that Microsoft's numbers are a little bit smaller,'' he said during a financial results conference call yesterday.

Microsoft hasn't commented on the claims, though a spokesman did admit that one of the its contractor's plants, in Mexico, has yet to get up to full capacity. Until then, it will not be able to give a final figure. But 300,000 is a lot less than Microsoft's base figure of 600,000 - the plant had better get a move on if it's to help boost the Xbox stockpile in what's now less than two months to the console's debut. ®

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