Could Microsoft be getting ready to unveil an Xbox branded tablet at next week's mystery media event?
ZDNet's David Gewirtz says believes so, claiming "Microsoft really only lets the exciting out of its cage once a decade or so" and comes to the conclusion that it's now time to take the Xbox brand to a new level.
In fact, Gewirtz has no trouble at all coming up with reasons to back up the ongoing industry speculation. He spins such a good tale that for a moment I was sucked into the fantasy.
But then I started to see the flaws.
While I have no doubt that Xbox has its cadre of hardcore fanboys, I doubt that there are enough of them to take a new product to leap across Moore's 'chasm', something that's necessary for any product if it is to go mainstream. Most people just bought -- or were bought -- a games console. They didn't just subscribe to a cult or religion.
There's no doubt that the Xbox 360 is a popular gaming console, but its success is nothing compared to a device like the iPad.
First released in November 2006, by April 2012 Microsoft had sold over 67 million units. That seems like a lot, but remember that the console was first released in November 2005, so those sales are spread over six and a half years. To put this into perspective, the iPad was first released in April of 2010 and in a little over two years Apple has sold more than 67 million tablets.
Another problem with an Xbox tablet is differentiation. How does this tablet differ from Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets?
Sure, there would be a gaming slant to it, but is this going to be purely a gaming platform or will it be able to do other stuff too? On the one hand it seems somewhat late in the proceedings for Microsoft to release a one-trick tablet, but simply branding a tablet "Xbox" seems like little more than a cheap marketing trick.
Even the Xbox 360 console itself is no longer purely a gaming platform, but it has morphed into an entertainment hub.
This 'fictional' tablet could cost in or around $299. Unless this Xbox tablet were to be heavily subsidized by Microsoft right from the off, I can't see Redmond being able to come up with anything compelling at this price point. Even Apple's iPad 2 will set you back $399, so a $299 price sticker is really low-balling things.
Gewirtz added: "The one thing the company doesn't really have is a portable Xbox solution."
Is a tablet even the right direction for Microsoft, especially given that the company is hoping that Windows-powered tablets will gain traction over the months following the launch of the new operating system?
Come to think of it: I'm having a hard time believing that Microsoft needs a portable gaming solution at all, given that Windows-powered tablets and Windows Phone devices could fill in the gaps without needing a dedicated device.
I don't think that we're going to see an Xbox tablet announced on Monday. My guess is that this is announcement will revolve around music, movie or TV.
Image source: Microsoft.
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