Analyst Colin Sebastian from Lazard Capital Markets has sent out details of an 'upbeat' analyst meeting with Microsoft's Xbox executive team, during which he notes that the Xbox 360 is benefiting from PS3 and Wii shortages this holiday season.
Sebastian particularly commented: "Management appeared to be upbeat regarding the current state of the business, particularly with progress made in establishing the Xbox 360 as the early leader among next generation consoles, and also with penetration and usage of Xbox Live services."
The analyst continues: "We also believe the Xbox 360 may be benefiting at retail this holiday from short supplies of PS3 and Wii consoles. Recently, Microsoft executives reaffirmed the company’s goal of reaching 10 million Xbox 360 units installed worldwide by the end 2006."
As for hints to the best sellers for Xbox 360 this holiday season: "Management indicated first-party software title Gears of War is selling well, and may be driving some incremental hardware sales. In addition, the title has now overtaken Halo  in popularity on Xbox Live. Based on our retail checks, we believe Xbox 360 software overall is strong at retail thus far in the holiday period."
Looking forward, Sebastian has outlined some of the key Xbox 360 titles for next year, noting: "We believe there is a strong lineup of software targeted for release in 2007 on the Xbox 360, including Halo 3, GTA IV, Crackdown, Mass Effect, Bioshock and Splinter Cell 5, among others."
He also notes that the company may be making better in-roads in Europe, after only a moderate start, though the Japanese problem still remains: "North America remains the strongest Xbox 360 market, however Microsoft appears to be making some strides in other geographies, most notably in the U.K. and northern Europe, while we believe sales are still weaker in Japan."
Finally, Microsoft's online strengths are again reaffirmed: "Xbox Live continues to be a significant point of differentiation for Xbox, and we believe Microsoft remains focused on distinguishing the Xbox 360 through a robust online offering, including Arcade, community features, digital downloads/micro-transactions and in-game advertising (through Massive)."