The numbers, if accurate, only represent a symbolic victory -- and rely on just one analyst's estimates: that of market research firm ScreenDigest. Nevertheless, as the two companies scramble for runner-up in a market that many analysts believe can only support two competitors over the long run, Microsoft and Nintendo are looking for ways to hold onto second place. ScreenDigest estimates that Microsoft sold 1.4 million consoles in Europe, while it says that Sony was far ahead with 6 million sold in 2002.
This year could shift those fortunes, however, ScreenDigest believes. It says that Microsoft's strategy of bundling games with the Xbox could lead to higher sales in 2003, and predicts that by the end of this year, Xbox will claim second place in Europe with 2.6 million units compared to the Gamecube's 2.2 million units.
A Nintendo representative said the company will focus on getting new games out in 2003, and is not considering lowering the GameCube's price tag to move more consoles. The company is shooting to release 80 new Gamecube titles this year.
In March, the company will enter the world of online gaming. The first online game for the Gamecube will be Sega's Phantasy Star Online
, requiring the purchase of a separate broadband or dial-up modem adapters. Nintendo has not said how much the adapters will cost.
Finally, Nintendo released information about a new, thinner variation of the Game Boy Advance, called the Gameboy Advance SP. The new portable will cost 20-30% more than the current GBA, and will launch on March 28 in Europe.