According to a report in British newspaper The Financial Times, Microsoft is planning to launch the Xbox 360 console in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Africa within the next eighteen months.
The newspaper report indicates that the Eastern European launch will focus on emerging markets such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia, with the company apparently planning to make distribution deals with local game retailers. Since the original Xbox console was not officially sold in any of these territories, the company will be looking to make long term agreements in order to establish a permanent future for the brand in each country.
Microsoft executive Chris Lewis will be heading efforts in the regions, and has indicated that Microsoft may attempt to create niche titles for specific countries, presumably using local developers. Lewis also claims that expansion into new markets is essential for the company's strategy in combating Sony's November launch of the PlayStation 3.
With the recent launch of the Xbox 360 in Australasia
, as well as countries including Mexico, South Korea and Columbia, the only major market yet to be targeted by the company in China. Microsoft has indicated it has plans to do so this year, but with stock of the console still relatively low worldwide, the decision of when to launch may be constrained by logistical as well as legal and marketing considerations.