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Despite Shortages, Xbox Sales Below Expectations?

Microsoft so far has sold about 600,000 of its new Xbox 360 video game consoles in the United States since its late November launch, according to market researcher
NPD Group
. The firm's next-gen console, whose content can be optimized with an HD monitor, began hitting store shelves in North America Nov, 22, and soon sold out. At the time, there were published reports that Microsoft did not go out of its way to stock more consoles than had been pre-ordered in advance (with some outlets reporting that virtually their entire stocks were pre-ordered, thereby leaving no sales potential for first-time buyers).

The Xbox 360 has been in rather short supply since the holidays -- yet analysts and some retailers say shipments during the holiday season were a bit short of industry expectations. Microsoft has said its challenge has been to meet consumer demand, although it hasn't said whether a lot more units will be heading to stores anytime soon.

Reuters reports that Bill Gates' company would not comment on the numbers from the NPD Group, but said its manufacturing facilities are running at full capacity and more assembly lines will be added in a few weeks. Microsoft's oft-stated goal all along has been to sell about 5 million new consoles during the current business year, which ends on June 30. Stay tuned.