Maybe it doesn't matter that Microsoft (MSFT) was first to market with the first next-gen game console. In fact, maybe it will hurt them since it has been said so much is riding on the success of its launch in Japan. Despite large unmet demand in the US and EU, anybody who wants an Xbox 360 in Japan can go out and get one. Steve Ballmer could even get one if he really wanted to. Reuters citing independent study data reported that only about 62,000 units were purchased in the first two days of the Xbox 360's debut.
That figure represents less than half the 123,000 sold of the original Xbox back in February 2002 over the first three days of its debut. Microsoft went on to sell less than 500,000 consoles in Japan.
So why isn't it selling well? Reuters quoted the editor in chief of an Xbox magazine, Munetatsu Matsui, who said, "There is just one reason for the slow sales -- the postponement of the launch of the 'Dead or Alive 4' game."
There seems to be a lot of emphasis on the release of Dead or Alive 4, which is now scheduled to be for sale on December 29th. It's hard to imagine a single game making or breaking the success of a console. Regardless, Sony (SNE) looks like it will be in good shape and not have much to worry about even though its PS3 won't be available until spring.
In a post yesterday I found five reasons why Microsoft might not be pleased with early sales reports in Japan: (1) some customers were concerned about a limited selection of only six games; (2) news of the overheating issue and pending lawsuit by gamers against Microsoft out of the US; (3) console shortages that have hit the US and EU; (4) preference for Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Nintendo games and game systems; and (5) some taking the wait-and-see approach before forking over about $330.
See the Reuters article for more details.
Also see GameSpot.com's thorough coverage of the Xbox 360 in Japan.