Microsoft’s Black Friday and the Success of Xbox 360

Microsoft announced today that on Black Friday its Xbox 360 game console outsold Sony’s PlayStation 3 at a 3 to 1 ratio. That record weekend of sales puts the 360 over 25 million systems sold worldwide, surpassing the sales of the original Xbox — and in only three years.

Say what you will, but Microsoft clearly learned from the mistakes it made in the last console cycle. It gambled at launch that being the first one to market (a year before rival Sony) and with more cost effective components (DVD rather than Blu-ray), would give them an advantage. Since then, Microsoft has created a robust online community with significant sales of digital content (simple games and extra content of game discs) and a respectable digital media strategy (sales of video downloads, streaming Netflix). And with the wide support of developers, it continues to offer more titles than its competitors.

With the move at the start of September to lower the price of the console, Microsoft has ensured the 360 is recession-proof. And the recent monthly sales date released by research firm NPD Group confirms that — with the gap in U.S. sales between Microsoft and Sony only increasing since August. Money-strapped Americans will not pay $400 to $500 for a game system, even if that includes Blu-ray. I am sure that trend will continue through holiday game sales.

So where does Microsoft go from here? Besides continuing the strategies that have worked for them so far, it needs to amp up the promotion — including some impressive exclusives. And maybe then it will create the buzz necessary to leave the war with Sony behind and take on Nintendo.