Not sold... they shipped. It's a pretty big difference that can change the lifespan performance and expectancy of a home console on a quarterly basis. In the case of the Xbox One, Microsoft has shipped in to retailers a total of 10 million stock keeping units, which is definitely a huge step up from the 5 million margin they've rested their laurels on since April.

Over on the official Xbox news wire, the corporate VP of devices and studios, Yusuf Mehdi, wrote out a bit of a victory dance-article about the Xbox One given that they've managed to ship 10 million consoles to retailers, worldwide.

As noted in the post...
“...sales have skyrocketed since the new price took effect on Nov. 2. Compared to the previous week, Xbox One sales in the US have more than tripled, which is exciting as more and more friends will be playing together this holiday. As we head into the busy holiday season Xbox One led generation 8 console sales in the US for the past two weeks. Shortly, we will have sold in to retailers more than 10 million Xbox One consoles.”

I'm sure Microsoft's executives are sitting at their desks, desperately awaiting the NPD roll-outs for October and November. The idea that Microsoft could finally win a month over Sony in the heated battle between the PS4 and Xbox One is probably a dream come true for them.

However, winning one month doesn't really change the fact that Microsoft has nearly shipped as many consoles to retailers that Sony has sold-through to customers. What this means is that there's a huge disparity between the actual install base (which is the number of consoles currently sold-through to customers and being used by gamers. This also determines publisher favoritism given that a larger install base means more sales).

Microsoft still has an issue with even catching up to and surpassing the Wii U in total install base sales. While 10 million shipped units will look good on the quarterly financial sheets – when it comes to actual sales comparisons, the Xbox One has yet to pass up Nintendo's little Wii U. It's still about a million or so units behind.

The other issue with reporting a high number of shipped units without actually going into detail about the sell-through stats is that it can sometimes come back to bite you on the butt. Back in April when Microsoft mentioned they had shipped 5 million SKUs, the one thing that later came out of the news was that they were also halting production in order to get those 5 million SKUs sold-through.

The sales game is a dangerous mistress, and trying to play fast and loose with PR in order to give the impression of success can work as a double-edged sword at times. Nevertheless, I'm almost quite sure that Microsoft is confident that they will be able to move through the units they've sold to retailers throughout the holiday season. If they can manage to sell-through the shipped units, then 10 million won't just be a figure they can tout to shareholders, it'll be a figure that they can tout to publishers and developers as well.
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