Nintendo Switch at 10 Million Units: What Does This Mean for Xbox? (Premium)

Nintendo announced today that it has sold 10 million Switch consoles in just 9 months. Yep. It's time for some math.

As you know, I often discussion PlayStation 4 sales and compare those hard numbers to what we believe to be the case on the Xbox side of the fence. We have to estimate here because Microsoft long-ago stopped supplying Xbox unit sales numbers because its consoles are being beaten so badly in the market.

The last time I reported on this, in October, PlayStation 4 sales had hit 67.5 million units. Worse, for Microsoft, PS4 sales were accelerating compared to the same time period a year earlier. (Sony also revealed at that time that it had sold over 1 million PlayStation VR kits, which is also very impressive.)

Since then, Sony revealed that it has now sold over 70 million PS4s and---get this---over 2 million PSVR kits. Yikes.

Exactly one year earlier, Sony had revealed that it had sold 50 million PS4s. This means that Sony sold 20 million consoles in one year, or an average of 1.67 per month.

So let's look at Nintendo. How is the Switch doing? Not just compared to PS4, but compared to previous Nintendo consoles.

Nintendo announced today that it has sold 10 million Switch consoles in the 9 months since its March 2017 launch. That works out to 1.11 million units per month, short of Sony's torrid sales pace but very respectable. (We've long since given up on even guessing at Microsoft's console sales, but some still believe it is being outsold by at least 2:1.)

But it also took the PS4 9 months to hit 10 million units sold. And Nintendo's previous console, the woeful Wii-U, required 2.5 years to reach 10 million units sold. Nintendo, by any accounting, is back.

Looking a bit deeper, I come away with the notion that Nintendo could have sold even more Switch consoles if it could have just made them. The company has struggled all year to meet demand, but it appears that you could get one now if you needed to. Nintendo says that it is possible that the Switch will outsell the Wii---the best-selling console of all time---in its first year. And that it is on-track to hit its goal of 17 million units in one year regardless.

Anyway, this is impressive. And I'd love to get some hard numbers from Microsoft on Xbox One sales. Knowing, of course, that that will never happen. So given what we do know, it's fair to say that Xbox will once again come in third place. Which has been its final resting place in each console generation, by the way.

For its part, Microsoft can continue to tout other metrics to give the appearance of success. But I think Microsoft's future in gaming is the same as its future generally: In the cloud, and not in hardware sales. And on that note, I expect the future of Xbox to be console-less and device agnostic. It's a future Microsoft has been plotting for some time.


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