Third company begins supplying Xbox 360 consoles

The availability of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 console should improve over the coming weeks after a third contract manufacturer started producing the gaming box, Microsoft said Tuesday.

Xbox 360 consoles produced by Canada's Celestica Inc. will begin entering the retail channel this week, Microsoft said. Until now, the consoles have been made by only two companies: Singapore's Flextronics International Ltd. and Taiwan's Wistron Corp. All three companies specialize in producing electronics goods to order and have large manufacturing bases in China.

The additional capacity should help satisfy demand for the console, which has been high in the North American and European markets since it went on sale on Nov. 22 and Dec. 2 respectively. Many prospective customers were initially left frustrated at product shortages that stretched into 2006.

On Thursday, the console will go on sale in Australia and New Zealand. In addition to North America, Europe and Japan, the console has also gone on sale in Colombia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan.

Microsoft said downloads from its Xbox Live Marketplace have reached the 10 million download level. The service offers content such as game trailers, demos, arcade game titles, music videos and movie trailers. The service is available to all Xbox 360 owners with a broadband Internet connection.

More than 85 percent of all connected Xbox 360 consoles have downloaded content, Microsoft said.

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