With all the news recently about Sony’s Playstation 3 becoming a full-fledge media device, particularly overseas, I’ve wondered what Microsoft plans to do with its Xbox game platform.
David Richards at Smarthouse may have answered my question. He reports that Toshiba, owner of the HD-DVD patents, is working with Microsoft on an Entertainment Xbox, due out in late 2008 or early 2009. The device will feature, naturally, an HD-DVD player, a large hard drive, and new entertainment software that’s a spin off of Microsoft’s Media Center.
Of course, the Entertainment Xbox is being developed in response to Sony’s Playstation 3, which has started slowly but seems to be gaining momentum lately after price cuts, game availability improving, and the device being positioned as a powerful stand-alone home media hub (mostly in Europe and Asia), not just a game console or a PC-based media extender.
The Playstation 3 is seen as an important driving force in the adoption of Sony’s Blu-ray. Smarthouse cites a recent Sony Brand Wave study conducted in five countries that says a key reason consumers are buying the PS3 is because of the Blu-ray player.
Additionally, GFK research says the recently-launched Xbox 360 HD DVD-attached player is not selling well.
“The new Xbox device, while allowing for extensive gaming capability, will be positioned as an entertainment hub that includes gaming and extensive wireless networking capability as well as 1080p playback,” Richards writes. “There is also talk of it including a dual HD TV tuner and EPG capability and a docking port for an MP3 player.”
Smarthouse quotes a senior Toshiba executive in Singapore as saying, “An Xbox with a built-in HD-DVD drive is critical. They (Microsoft) and we are working on it. It also has to be more than a gaming machine. Microsoft recognizes this.”
Not long ago Microsoft was seen as besting Sony when the Xbox 360 beat the Playstation 3 to market. Wouldn’t it be something if Sony leapfrogs Microsoft with the Playstation 3 … as a home entertainment hub?