"For those whose shopping lists still include Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game system, it's looking like a blue Christmas.
Most stores and online retailers are sold out of the system, which starts at $300, and don't expect new shipments to satisfy the demand. Auctions on eBay and Craigslist are being bidded up to $1,000; sites such as xbox.clambert.org have sprung up to track availability on the Net.
When word leaked out that Best Buy stores were to have a few systems Sunday, customers began lining up. "I was going to camp out (early Sunday), but when I got there I found people who had already gotten there at 7 p.m. Friday," says Joey Rouse, 31, of Denham Springs, La., who checked a store in Baton Rouge.
Instead, he ordered a system from Best Buy's website, but he's not sure his 360 will arrive in time for him and his two sons to play over the holiday. Nonetheless, "I know what Christmas is really about," he says. "Anything extra is a blessing. If it doesn't come, it doesn't come."
It's unclear when individual stores will get replenishments; most spokesmen recommend that customers visit local stores and websites. "When the consoles come in, we'll put them out," says Circuit City's Jim Babb.
The 360 is the first of a new generation of game systems due in the next year. Microsoft launched it Nov. 22 and sold 326,000 by the end of the month, according to market-tracking firm The NPD Group.
That falls short of the November 2001 launch of the original Xbox, when Microsoft sold 772,000 in 15 days, says NPD's Anita Frazier. "The marketing and awareness they built up far exceeded the supply," she says." [more