A million of anything is significant, not only from a quantitative point of view but also from a psychological one. Sure, a million bucks isn't exactly what it used to be, I can hear readers out there musing in their minds; true enough. Still, I wouldn't mind turning a grand into that amount.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) currently has its own brush with this wonderful number, in the form of a release announcing that the Xbox online service now has more than 1 million subscribers to its credit. The promo beneath the headline of the company's joyous proclamation states that the threshold was reached in a shorter amount of time than it took for services such as Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL and HBO units and the TiVo system to garner a million devotees.

Granted, a statistic like this can be picked apart from many different angles; just saying Xbox Live has 1 million subscribers isn't completely meaningful (for instance, what was the cost of acquisition per sub?). For myself, however, this head count proves that I was wrong; truthfully, I thought Xbox would have trouble getting above a few hundred thousand. Why? It was just an instinctual feeling based on the fact that I don't play online games; call it a kind of brand bias, if you will. But reality has said something new to me: Xbox Live can be considered nothing less than a viable asset at this point. It's like the 100 million downloads experienced by Apple Computer's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes program -- there's strength in such mass adoption.

Companies such as Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), and THQ (NASDAQ:THQI) will be watching online-gaming trends carefully and will be looking to mine every available dollar from them, not only from gross subscription revenues but also from other ancillary engines, such as advertising opportunities. Microsoft's Xbox division is looking more and more like a survivor in the eternal war for the console consumer.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned in this article.