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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

August 11, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Xbox continues to lead U.S. consoles market

Microsoft, citing figures from NPD for July, said today that sales of its Xbox 360 continued to outsell all other consoles in the U.S. for the fifth straight month and the 13th of the past 14 months.

It’s also on track to have its biggest year ever in terms of number of units sold worldwide, according to the company.

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A total 277,000 Xbox units were sold in July 2011, representing a 45 percent share of the overall current-generation console market. That’s down from 507,000 in June, but that June-to-July drop-off is typical, according to the company.

Total retail spending in July on the Xbox 360 platform, including hardware, software and accessories, reached $250 million, Microsoft said.

All that was amid a tough video game sales market in which physical retail stores suffered their worst month since October 2006, according to NPD Group, which tracks game industry sales. Hit hardest in terms of dollar decline were console hardware.

The report also says July marked the first month that the Xbox 360 saw a year-over-year decline since December 2009.

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But last summer’s sales were not typical, said David Dennis, group product manager with Xbox. That was when Microsoft launched a new Xbox in a slimmed-down form factor, and reduced its prices on old consoles — both leading to the boost in sales to 443,000 in July 2010.

“We feel good where we are — holding a strong position vs. our competition and handily in the No. 1 spot,” Dennis said.

Typically a console sells well for a few years after it’s launched, then starts to drop off around year five, Dennis said. “We’re in our sixth year and we’ve seen acceleration in the last three years — year-over-year growth.”

Dennis attributed the growth to last year’s launch of Kinect for Xbox, a motion sensor that allows people to play video games by moving their bodies without using a handheld controller, and the Xbox Live online service and its non-gaming entertainment options, such as streaming music through Zune, watching TV through Hulu Plus and streaming movies via Netflix.

(Image of “Halo: Combat Evolved,” with graphics and audio remastered for the Xbox 360, from Microsoft.)

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