Xbox Still Holds Console Lead, but Here Comes the Next Generation

Microsoft said yesterday that the Xbox 360 has now been the best-selling videogame console for 22 straight months, but can that winning streak continue?

On Nov. 18, Nintendo will start selling the Wii U, marking the beginning of the next generation of videogaming hardware. Nintendo has not said how many Wii U’s it expects to sell, but it is forecasting 10 million units combined for both the original Wii and the Wii U this year. Already, retailers have sold out of the limited quantities made available for preorders, but more will be available on launch day.

In an interview with AllThingsD, Nintendo North American President Reggie Fils-Aime said, “We are looking to max out production as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft said it sold 270,000 Xbox units in the month of October; that’s more than any other console. Based on data from the NPD Group, it says it continues to hold a 56 percent market share of the current generation of consoles in the U.S., including the original Wii U and the Playstation 3.

What’s more, NPD Group said that $315 million was spent on Xbox 360 products in October, or more than the other two current-generation consoles combined.

Nintendo will be the only one of the three to unveil new hardware in time for the holiday shopping season, and has priced the console fairly competitively. The new Wii U will cost between $300 and $350, depending on the package. At the same time, it is dropping the price of the original Wii to $130. The selling points of the new console are a controller with a touchscreen display, 3-D graphics and integration with live TV programming.

In lockstep with Nintendo’s launch, Microsoft has started experimenting with several different pricing models for its hardware, which is now more than six years old. On Oct. 28, it started selling different hardware configurations from $99 to $150 with a two-year Xbox Live commitment of $15 a month. The Live account is required to access many additional features on the console. In contrast, Nintendo does not have a subscription pricing model and only requires the upfront purchase.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald