Analysts: 3 million Xbox 360s shipped by Xmas

Goldman Sachs says it expects Microsoft's next-gen console to arrive in force this year--perhaps as early as October--for under $300.

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With the unveiling of the next-generation Xbox on the horizon, doubts that the console will not arrive this year are steadily evaporating. Any lingering uncertainty was further dispelled today when the online edition of Forbes reported that top-flight investment firm Goldman Sachs "expects" the console to arrive in time for the 2005 holiday season.

According to Forbes, Goldman Sachs is predicting that the next-gen Xbox, now increasingly referred to as the Xbox 360, will "be available for retail sale in October or November at a retail price of about $249 to $299." Goldman says it "expects" Microsoft to have shipped around 3 million units by year's end and reiterated its "outperform" rating for Microsoft Corp. stock, which closed at $25.32 today.

Goldman Sachs' predictions were backed up by another high-profile analyst's report. "We expect Microsoft to announce a release date for the next-gen Xbox in the October/November 2005 period," said Boris Markovich of TerraNova Institutional.

In the same report, Goldman Sachs said it does not see the PlayStation 3 appearing on US store shelves until mid-2006. The company predicted that an earlier launch--sometime in the first calendar quarter of 2006--in Japan is likely.

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