What's missing from the XBox 360?

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Tom Keating
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What's missing from the XBox 360?

By all early indications, the Microsoft XBox 360 is a resounding success despite some stories of some XBox 360 muggings and even an Electronic Boutique store held at gunpoint until two XBoxs were handed over. My wife told me a story about her co-worker that witnessed two men "cut the line" to receive a ticket voucher for an XBox 360 resulting in some people in the line getting a baseball bat and beating them up. The police arrived and cordoned off the parking lot entrance preventing any other naive XBox 360 wannabees from entering and hoping beyond hope that they might get one.

In any event, Microsoft has been trying desperately to get a foothold in the living room, which has made the cable companies a bit nervous as Microsoft is trying to get more market share in the increasingly important home-entertainment market to compete with Apple, Sony, and others. In fact, last week's announcement between Microsoft and CableLabs to allow Microsoft
and PC manufacturers to bring to market digital-cable-ready (including
HD) content to Windows Media Center-based PCs and XBox's bypassing a cable set-top box could be another "foot in the door" to your living room by Microsoft. Imagine your TV content, multi-media content (music,videos), photos, RSS reader, and games all unified on a single Microsoft platform. You could be in the middle of an XBox game and receive your RSS alerts, or receive a callerID popup on your TV screen, or even a videoconference window popup. The integration and feature possibilities are endless.

Microsoft missed the boat when it came to the popularity of the Apple iPod MP3 player, but Microsoft is looking to not repeat its mistakes. Microsoft designed the XBox 360 will home-entertainment in mind with its ability to play MP3s, videos, act as a media extender between a TV and media residing on your PC or XBox 360, plug-n-play connect to an iPod, display photos, and more. They even have VoIP capabilities via XBox Live. It's only a matter of time before XBox Live becomes a Vonage-like service for outbound PSTN calling, as well as videoconferencing - you heard it here first! ;) Advantage: Microsoft

So what's missing from the XBox 360?

Well, to answer that question, you need not go any further than examine the upcoming Sony Playstation 3's feature-set. One of the most important things the Playstation 3 has going for it is that Sony plans on providing integration with the popular handheld Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). What that integration entails is anyone's guess, I suppose you could put your game saves on Sony's proprietary Memory Stick which the PS1, PS2, and PS3 support. Perhaps Sony will have game bundles that for example could include Metal Gear Solid 2 for the Playstation 3 and the PSP at a discounted rate. Advantage: Sony

Microsoft doesn't have a portable handheld gaming platform which certainly gives an edge to Sony. The XBox 360 is missing a handheld gaming counterpart. I know plenty of hardcore gamers that want to be able to play their favorite games on their wide-screen TVs, but also on a portable, small screen when travelling. The question is why doesn't Microsoft have a handheld gaming platform? You can play just about any legacy arcade game on any Microsoft PocketPC using an emulator or even a natively written game for the PocketPC. But of course the PocketPC wasn't really designed for true gaming, especially since it doesn't have a true gamepad. But the point being, it wouldn't be that hard for Microsoft to extend the PocketPC and build a handheld gaming platform based on the PocketPC. Of course, if Microsoft wants to leverage DirectX technology used to develop games on the PC and XBox/XBox 360, they'd probably have to start the operating system from scratch since the Windows CE operating system doesn't support DirectX that I am aware of.

Perhaps Microsoft is secretly developing a handheld gaming platform to go up against the Sony PSP? Well, it wouldn't be the first time I blogged about a multi-billion dollar company secretly developing something and then I was proved right 6 months later! ;)

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