HD DVD May Get Boost from New Xbox Shipments

While Sony is counting on its rescheduled late-2006 launch of PlayStation 3 to give Blu-ray a holiday boost, HD DVD proponents were hoping for an early bump from Microsoft's launch of Xbox 360 (opens in new tab) a few months ago. But that ramp-up was reportedly plagued not as much by a lack of interest (except maybe in Asia, where apparently Sony still rules) but from lack of product supply at the retail level.

Some Microsoft critics charged the "shortage" was intentional in order to create the perception of huge sales, which Microsoft says is nonsense -- that it could have sold several hundred thousand more consoles if it had enough product. This week, Microsoft said it plans to double or triple shipments of the Xbox 360 soon to address the shortages. Because the console is also a computer that comes with a next-gen HD DVD drive, industry observers contend that the Xbox could play a pivotal role in expanding Microsoft's reach and influence in the typical home, beyond the dominance it holds over PCs.

According to Reuters, about 85 percent of Xbox 360 consoles that are connected to the Internet have already downloaded games, movie trailers and videos from Microsoft's new Xbox Live service. Microsoft said it still hopes to sell about 5 million units by the end of June; it has probably sold a bit more than half that number so far, according to published reports.