Although the Xbox 360 leads the PlayStation 3 in the U.S., the global picture shows Microsoft's console has lost ground to Sony's as of the end of 2010, says a new report from data firm Strategy Analytics.
According to the company's data, the Nintendo Wii continues to enjoy the world's largest install base with 75.5 million active units worldwide, but the active install base of PS3s reached 43.4 million at the close of 2010 versus Xbox 360's 42.9.
Strategy Analytics says that Xbox 360's relative weakness in Europe and Asia "acts as a drag on its global performance," even factoring in the boost the console saw from the launch of the Kinect motion-sensing peripheral.
Just today, GameStop cited data from IDG
that showed that while the Xbox 360 still led the PS3 in the U.S. by 10 million units, Sony's console retailed a slightly bigger share of the European audience, with 14.7 million units to the Xbox 360's 13.7 million units.
"While the Kinect peripheral has given a boost to Microsoftâ€™s Xbox 360 strategy, the consoleâ€™s performance outside of the U.S. continues to disappoint,â€ť says Strategy Analytics' Digital Consumer Practice analyst Jia Wu, who authored the report.
"Global demand for Sonyâ€™s PS3 has exceeded that of the Xbox 360 in each of the past two years, and we expect that to continue over the coming years," Wu adds, recommending Microsoft "continue[s] to innovate around its motion sensor technology, which will become increasingly relevant in the smart home era."
The report predicts that Xbox 360 will grow its global sales by 13.7 million by the end of this year, while PS3 will also expand to 15.7 million units. The Wii, conversely, is expected to continue declining (a contraction on which Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews says the Xbox 360 can capitalize
Strategy Analytics says Wii's sales will fall by just over 10 million units over the year, leaving it in third place in hardware rankings -- and making it an opportune time for Nintendo to "launch a Wii successor within the next 12 months."