All current consoles are "loss leaders", even the GBA. Publishers pay a large chunk of money per-game to the console maker for the privelege of making games for it. It has been this was since the NES. Standard practice in the console gaming market I guess.
However, "buying a console to loose the company money as I am not going to buy any games" does not work either, simply because console popularity is measured by console sales. Pretty stupid that, but still... I guess it gives a good eye to know what is in circulation.
Microsoft wants to build a name in the gaming market, it may even be that they never intended to make any money with the XBox. At the moment MS loses money from console sales, and the games sales are *not* making up for that loss. Just look at their financial reports - truely hilarious - they are loosing money from everything they do, (phones, pda's, etc.) except from two things. Windows and Office. Actually I am not even sure about Windows. But of course, they do make a crazy amount of money with Office.
Pretty obviously Sony make a killing with the Playstation brand since their game sales pull back all the money lost from the console + plenty more. Microsoft just want to muscle in on this, and maybe they will do that with the XBox 2. It seems much of the "layman" gaming press (i.e. stuff on TV) I see is very pro (biased?) towards XBox - and they preach the the people who count - the masses - not the gaming hardcore, which are very much a minortity still.