Microsoft has earned $56 billion in game revenues since 2005 across the 67 million Xbox 360 consoles and 19 million Kinect sensors that have been sold. This means that, unlike other divisions of Microsoft, the Entertainment and Devices division of the Seattle, WA company can actually turn a profit.
Speculation has been rising about the next generation of Xbox console expected to be making it’s way to the market within the next two or three years, but one thing is clear: the focus is on the entirety of entertainment, not just gaming.
Microsoft has been making major pushes with its Xbox 360 console to capture every imaginable market segment that purchases set-top boxes. Of course, the Xbox is still directly targeted at hardcore gamers, but recent hardware and software add-ons—such as the Kinect sensor hardware, and an improved “Dashboard”—appeal to casual gamers, movie buffs, and even traditional television audiences. Not to mention that this has all been done in the new-yet-familiar “Metro” interface similarly used by Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.
In the mid-1990s, Bill Gates wrote in his book, The Road Ahead, that a television revolution will occur in the future that will place games, movies, television shows, and even information services (think weather, news, etc.) all within reach of your TV’s remote control. It seemed odd at the time for a PC software magnate to tout such a revolution in television, but it was ultimately a larger picture of the future that Mr. Gates was attempting to convey. Microsoft may no longer have Bill Gates at the helm, but he did certainly instill a lasting corporate culture that welcomed visionary futurist thinking.
We live in a world where virtually every entertainment device is actually a computer. Our televisions are HD monitors with on-board computers complete with operating systems, wireless connectivity, and even USB ports. Telephones have been all but supplanted by mobile computers (or “pocket computers” in Bill Gates’ mid-90s lingo), and even radio has been converted, in large part, from broadcast-only to an Internet-delivered service featuring the ability to be broadcasted or to be offered as a modern equivalent to the jukebox.
The next Xbox isn’t going to be just about gaming. The existing live-television and video-on-demand deals with Verizon’s Fios and Comcast’s Xfinity, respectively, verify this even if Microsoft doesn’t go out of their way to do so in an official capacity.
Apple has stated that it is placing a major focus on television. Google has already exhibited it’s own interest in television through its Google TV devices. Microsoft, however, seems to have a running start in this field.
As Microsoft prepares to kick-start E3 2012 next Monday—and broadcast it live via the Xbox—we look forward to seeing what announcements are made. We don’t expect a new console just yet, but we expect a few more games, a few more television services, and maybe some increased focus on utilizing Bing for accessing, and sharing, digital content with friends.