Fewer bucks for an Xbox

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Microsoft will cut the price of its most popular Xbox 360 model, the 20GB Pro, by $50 to $299 in the coming weeks.

Microsoft declined comment, but a major retailer, which requested anonymity, said the price move will come before the big video game trade show E3, which runs July 15-17 in Los Angeles.

Microsoft cut the price of the Xbox 360 Pro from $399 to $349 in August, in many ways setting the stage for the successful rollout of "Halo 3" the following month.

Although Microsoft does not have a "Halo"-style blockbuster on the horizon this year, the company is trying to compete with the Nintendo Wii for a family/casual gaming audience while also fending off Sony's Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 in the market-share battle for more hard-core players.

David Cole, president of market research firm DFC Intelligence, said the move by Microsoft had been expected, adding that he didn't think the cut would trigger an immediate spike in Xbox 360 hardware sales.

But the price drop, which now positions the Xbox 360 Pro at $100 less than Sony's 40GB PS3, will play a larger role during the holiday season, Cole said.

While Sony might be pondering its own price cut, the consumer electronics giant did note recently in an annual report that the PS3 has cost the company $3.3 billion since its late 2006 launch because of a strategic decision to sell the system for less than it costs to make. (partialdiff)
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