"Disappointed" Microsoft begins weekly 360 shipments

Retailers report getting "very small" quantities of next-generation consoles as execs vent in Redmond.

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The good news: Microsoft has shipped out a new batch of Xbox 360s. According to several San Francisco Bay Area retailers, the shipment, which arrived this week, was the first they received since the console's November 22 launch in North America. In the weeks since, the next-gen platform has been in very short supply, with demand further fueled by incessant media reports about it being the "hot" Christmas gift of 2005.

The bad news: Unless you preordered an Xbox 360 or have a friend who works at a retailer, you probably won't be able to get one. A manager at a San Francisco EB Games outlet said that they had received only "very small" quantities of the Xbox 360, and that the location wouldn't have any non-prelaunch preorder units available for purchase until February 2006. Employees at GameStop and Target said they had already sold all the units they received earlier in the week.

However, the new Xbox 360 shipments appear to have had no effect on online retailers' stocks--or lack thereof. EBgames.com says that orders for the console placed now "may not ship until March 2006." As has been the case for the last month, every bundled and unbundled combination of the console was listed as out of stock by the online stores of Target, Amazon, and Wal-Mart.

When asked to comment on the matter, Microsoft reps would only say, "We're working around the clock to deliver as many Xbox 360 consoles as humanly possible to meet the high consumer demand." However, San Jose Mercury News reporter Dean Takahashi said, "Microsoft is disappointed that it can't get more units of the Xbox 360 into the market." Though he stressed that that was not the official company line, Takahashi said he drew the conclusion from speaking to several notable Microsoft officials, including Xbox 360 system designer Greg Gibson and Xbox division spokesperson Molly O'Donnell.

On his official blog, Takahashi also shared what he had heard about the causes of the Xbox 360 shortage. "Various folks tell me it isn't a problem with chip yields," he wrote. "I think it's more of a systems issue, when the boxes come together. They're working on getting more units out."

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