Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Okay, Microsoft — What’s Your Next Game Machine Going to Look Like?

tellem_mehdi1Sony showed off its next-generation gaming machine last night — except it didn’t.

So what does Microsoft plan to do when it replaces its own gaming console? We asked Xbox head Yusuf Mehdi when he stopped by the D: Dive Into Media conference last week, along with Nancy Tellem, the former CBS executive hired to build up Xbox’s video business.

You can see what they had to say below, in the full-length version of their interview. Warning: Neither Mehdi or Tellem wanted to spill much (then again, they didn’t promise a “launch” event, so you can’t blame them).

But you can read between the lines and get a sense of where they’re headed: While lots of people are interested in lightweight casual games and low-cost machines that can play them, Microsoft seems committed to the idea of a heavy-duty machine with lots of proprietary bells and whistles. So you shouldn’t expect an Apple TV-sized box, for instance.

Tellem, who is building a full-fledged studio in L.A. to create shows, series and events for Xbox, is noncommittal as well (likely because she is still figuring it out). But she is talking about the same kinds of ideas: Video that isn’t just proprietary to Xbox, but that takes advantage of the device’s hardware and processing power. Assume that once she gets going, for instance, she’ll create stuff that takes advantage of Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensors.

One big difference between Sony and Microsoft is the way the two companies are positioning their machines: While Sony’s customers spend plenty of time streaming video on the PS3 (they log more Netflix hours than Xbox users), Microsoft is much more explicit about using the Xbox as an entertainment device, period.

Which is why it’s interesting that Microsoft has decided, at least for now, not to go ahead and simply become a pay-TV provider, like Intel says it will do this year.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik