Microsoft steps up Xbox 360 distribution

Shipments of the gaming consoles to retailers are expected to at least double, software giant says.

Microsoft plans to increase its weekly distribution of the Xbox 360 game console by at least twofold, the company announced Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference.

The software giant said the addition of a new manufacturing partner, Celestica, will allow it to ship "two to three times" more Xbox 360s to retailers each week. Celestica joins Wistron and Flextronics in manufacturing the system and components for Microsoft.

The announcement coincides with Microsoft's release of its new spring line of games. The company also announced additions to its downloadable digital-content zone, Xbox Live Marketplace, which it says is being used by more than 85 percent of connected Xbox users.

Microsoft suffered a shortage in Xbox 360 supplies in the United States, following the November launch of the device, and some frustrated would-be buyers were forced to wait for their consoles. The company blamed the shortage on component production issues.

Microsoft also blamed the component shortage for its revenue miss for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2005. During its earnings call, the company said it had sold 1.5 million Xboxes, falling short of its prediction of 2.75 million to 3 million units sold in its first 90 days on the market.

Included in Xbox 360's new spring line of games are reinventions of classic favorites such as "Lara Croft Tomb Raider," "The Elder Scrolls" and an addition to the Tom Clancy series.

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