Microsoft’s Xbox One is struggling in Japan, the latest data show. Also, Airbus delivers its first A320neo with no hoopla as Lufthansa steps in to be the initial recipient.
In video-game-crazed Japan, Microsoft’s Xbox One video game console sold just 99 units in a week earlier this month.
By comparison, the PlayStation 3 — a version of Sony’s console that has been outdated for more than two years — sold 1,939 units.
During the same week, Jan. 11-17, the current-generation PlayStation 4 sold more than 25,000 units. Nintendo’s handheld New 3DS LL topped the charts at 30,172 units.
The figures, tallied by Japanese data tracker Media Create and spotted by video game news site Kotaku, are the latest sign of Microsoft’s failure to break into a massive video game market dominated by homegrown companies like Nintendo and Sony. The Redmond company’s struggles there have become something of a genre among the video gaming press.
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Microsoft declined to comment on the performance of Xbox in Japan, but observers cite plenty of reasons for the stumbles.
In Japan, the advantage of well-liked local incumbent companies is formidable. Xbox in the early days didn’t get much help from Microsoft’s dominance of the PC, a robust video-gaming platform in the U.S. that wasn’t as well loved by gamers in Japan.
Meanwhile, the Xbox game lineup trailed those of rivals in game genres popular in Japan, said Lewis Ward, an analyst who tracks video games for researcher IDC.
“It’s been an uphill slog for Microsoft for many, many years,” Ward said. “The Xbox One is following on a long tradition.”
Of course, some U.S. companies have met with success in Japan’s video game industry. Apple, Microsoft’s fierce rival, has grown into a player there with the success of mobile games on its iPhone.
— Matt Day: firstname.lastname@example.org
No-fuss delivery for first A320neo
New airplanes, among the sexiest beasts in the sky, generally debut with the type of glitzy ceremony befitting a Hollywood blockbuster.
Not this time. Airbus delivered its new version of the world’s best-selling airplane to Lufthansa by quietly dropping off the fuel-efficient jet in Hamburg on Wednesday.
There was a news release, several photos of executives in suits and a notice on Twitter.
But there was no horde of Airbus employees, music or overstuffed buffet to be seen — almost de rigueur for events like these, and certainly in evidence when Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing staged elaborate deliveries for the first of the new Airbus A350 and A380 superjumbo, and the 787 Dreamliner.
It seems January is a bad month for a big blowout. The short period after the holidays prevented a larger event, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath says, but Lufthansa and Airbus will have a big A320neo party in the next few weeks when the carrier gets its second plane.
“So no worries, there will be festivity,” Schaffrath wrote in an email.
Equally odd to many aviation enthusiasts on social media, Lufthansa and Airbus chose to sit on the “NEO” aspect of the new airplane, painting Airbus A320-200 near the cabin door, just as it appears on current models of the A320. Why the lack of distinction? No one is saying.
Airbus’ president and chief executive officer, Fabrice Brégier, did say in a news release that “handing over the first A320neo to a world’s leading airline and long standing Airbus customer, Lufthansa, is a truly great day for everyone at Airbus.”
Airbus had planned to deliver the first A320neo last month to Qatar Airways, which balked after last-minute glitches were detected in software used by its Pratt & Whitney engines, Bloomberg News reported. Certification of that engine delayed the handoff, so another large buyer of the A320neo, Lufthansa, which ordered 116, stepped in.
A rival engine, the LEAP-1A, from General Electric and Safran SA, began flight tests in May and is expected to be available this year.
Airbus says the A320neo — which began development in 2010 and stands for “new engine option” — offers airlines 15 percent greater fuel efficiency now, and 20 percent by 2020 through planned upgrades.
Despite its shiny new status, some 95 percent of the plane matches current A320s, a manufacturing strategy that helps integrate new versions into their fleets.
Boeing’s updated version of its top-selling aircraft, the 737 MAX, is scheduled for delivery to Southwest Airlines in mid-2017. Likewise, the MAX will share a similar commonality with Boeing’s current 737s.
As of Dec. 31, Airbus has booked orders for 4,471 “NEO” planes from nearly 80 customers for the three variants of the A320 family, with more than 3,300 for the mid-sized A320 model. Boeing has orders for more than 3,000 of its 737 MAX family.
— Bloomberg News