Two headlines (based on Microsoft press releases) this week make it sound as if the convicted-monopolist is successful in areas outside of its monopoly:
* Reuters: Microsoft to ship over 10 million Xbox 360 units by the end of 2006.
* Associated Press: Microsoft: 1M Zunes to be sold by June.
To you and I, these headlines read like consumers are snapping up those hardware products. But Microsoft's definition of "sold" differs from your's and mine. What it sells is not necessarily what we buy. Thank you to Reuters for including Microsoft's definition of "sold":
That "sold" number refers to units "sold into retail," and refers to:
- Units in transit [between Toshiba and warehouses].
- Units sitting in store inventories [and warehouses].
- Machines sold to consumers...
I wonder what percentage of sold units are unsold?
By using dates set far into the future, Microsoft makes its tiny Zune sales numbers look much bigger. The Zune's been selling for two weeks; by using June as a yardstick, Microsoft is able to exaggerate sales by 1,200%.
In the old days, stating numbers far in the future was useful, because most people forgot about them. Companies then could re-issue new numbers whenever it was convenient to them. The good thing about today's army of bloggers is that a few will remember the "1 million" claim next June, and call Microsoft on it.
Carl Howe confirms that Microsoft is overstating its XBox 360 sales by a million, through use the of channel stuffing. He explains how in Microsoft Press Releases: Read Between the Lines. Wasn't channel stuffing declared illegal (after companies were found to be shipping bricks inside cartons, in order to boost their year-end numbers)?