The Great Xbox 360 Shortage of 2005

November 22nd is here at last and most of the Xbox 360s shipped to the US have been put on sale at midnight.

As it turns out, the rumors of a Xbox 360 (360) shortage were true. We all thought it was going to be a problem come launch, we just wanted to remain oblivious to the situation.

Crunch time hit and Microsoft cut its original shipments by half, or worse. The store I purchased my 360 from was originally receiving 20 units. They now have only five to sell. Many stores, including Electronics Boutique, GameStop, Sam Goody, and the like have an unusually height number of pre-orders and not nearly enough 360s to go around. Someone screwed up and who are you going to blame? Microsoft.

I am sure Microsoft thought this through. They figured it was better to provide all three major territories with smaller quantities of 360s then to send all of the units to one territory for a massive launch. They will take less heat from all territories instead of a lot of heat from one or two territories. That is the official line at least.

This is a smart move – here is why. Microsoft has turned all the early adopters here in the US, Europe, and Japan into viral marketers. It feels a little dirty, yes, but that is what it is. Knowing that they have the PlayStation 3 beat to market, Microsoft does not have to push a huge number of units in any one area.

Early adapters will tell their friends, and readers, about how great the 360 is. When that next big shipment arrives there will be even more people chomping at the bit to buy one.

This is the plan that Microsoft is hoping to pull off. Especially in Japan where they have had a hard time selling the Xbox. Keep in mind that sales of Game Boy Advance units tops Xbox sales week in and week out in Japan.

Will their plan work? The only thing that happens in the short term is irritating loyal customers while hoping for the big pay off later. I gather this is an acceptable casualty of war for Microsoft.

Personally I would have gone for the large crowds right after Thanksgiving. But Microsoft sees the buzz as worth more then selling incredible amounts of 360s on the first day. Also realize the media attention Microsoft will receive once they have sold through their entire first shipment, regardless of the fact that said first shipment was small in comparison to the Xbox or PS2 launch.

Black Friday is going to be a very sad day for most hopeful Xbox 360 shoppers. The online retailers – including Wal*Mart’s site – are all out of stock. And that happened before November 22nd. There will be no spiraling stacks of green and white Xbox 360 boxes awaiting the masses come Friday morning.

We can only hope that Microsoft ships more units before the second holiday rush. They missed the mark during the best weekend of the year for selling new toys. There are many kids (young and old) who would dearly love to open a 360 this holiday season.

No console shortage comes without its conspiracy theorists though. It is too early to tell if Microsoft created the shortage or not. Will malls across the US open with stacks upon stacks of 360s just waiting to be bought? Or are store clerks going to have to record messages saying “Sorry, we are sold out of the Xbox 360. Please try back in a week.” This would be a wise plan, I foresee many a clerk going horse trying to explain the grim situation to John Q. Public.

If you did not pre-order a 360 months ago and have one today, consider yourself lucky. After seeing all the shortages in my area I feel lucky that I made it home with a 360 at all.

If you are scrambling to find a Xbox 360 right now, good luck!

Comments (4)

B:

We had pre-ordered an XBOX 360 MONTHS ago. We showed up as directed on the 22nd of this month to Game Stop and they didn't have our XBOX. They said it would be well after Christmas before another shipment arrived. Needless to say we got our money back. And we have NO INTEREST in purchasing an XBOX after that whole circus event at the store. Playstation 3 we'll see you soon!

don roberts:

I think your forgetting about gamers like me who are so pissed off that Im not giving microsoft any of my money and am asking other pissed off gamers to boycott microsoft and wait for the ps3. And if playstation pulls the same shit Ill wait for nintendo. Screw microsoft. This will backfire and Ill be laughing when that nerd bill gates loses to ps3 again !!! With games like battelfield 2 and far cry, the xbox will do just fine. The 360s games wont reach there potential for a while anyway. The launch games look like xbox games to me exept for call of duty.

I'm amazed sometimes how quickly people forget. The PS2 launch was just as bad, maybe even worse given heavier hype and advertising. If that's the case, everyone should have boycotted. Obviusly, they didn't, and look where Sony is now.

It's a frustrating system launch for sure, but you'll be able to get one, really.

Ed:

I got my first XBOX the day they came out years ago! This time around I was unable to get one. I am a huge MS proponent, and even an MCSE, but believe you me I am not going to buy one because of the way they slighted the end-user. It troubles me to think that I am going to be an inferior console, but I am going to get the PS3 and never purchase a 360! NEVER! Just thought we should get the word out there that there are people hugely upset by this!

Ed
XBOX Live ID: encoder

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