OK, fanboys, before you hit that spittle-flecked "post comment" button after just reading that inflammatory headline question, hear us out. We're not just idly speculating here -- we're basing our query on an unusually frank quote from Microsoft Senior Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick. In an interview with BusinessWeek, Mattrick said that he's "not at a point where I can say we're going to beat Nintendo." Coming from a guy whose job it is to promote Microsoft's position in the market, that's a pretty big admission of doubt. It's not just Mattrick that's doubtful-- analyst Billy Pidgeon told the magazine, "I expect the 360 to remain in second place this generation. But it's going to be close."

The question, then, becomes how much this sales position really matters. Microsoft's sales might fall just shy of Nintendo's, but that doesn't seem to be hurting the company's ability to attract big-name games or roll out new features for the system. In fact, with Nintendo's decidedly less powerful system catering to a decidedly different audience, Microsoft's position relative to Nintendo might not matter nearly as much as their position relative to Sony. And on that score Mattrick has no doubt: "We will sell more consoles this generation than Sony," he told BusinessWeek.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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