Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Microsoft enters the handheld market

Microsoft will be attacking the console handheld market, leveraging off its Xbox Live service and Windows 7 Phone hardware.

The vendor announced at its World Partner Conference 2010 that the Window 7 Phone will include Xbox Live integration – allowing consumers to access their friends and achievements, but also select Xbox Live games for playing on the go.

In this Microsoft is clearly gunning for both the Apple iPhone, in turning the mobile phone into a portable gaming machine, and Sony and its PS3/ PSP integration, where customers can access select games on either console, depending on whether they're at home or out and about.

The Windows 7 Phone development tools are already available to ISVs, and Microsoft is promising it will take no additional technology investments by developers to create applications to the device.

Microsoft was also touting the 'private cloud' as core to its consumer business going forward – allowing users to continually synchronise files, media and social networking across all PCs, mobile devices and the Xbox 360 in the house. What this means is users will be able to control what media is being played on the Xbox though their notebook computers.

“When this all comes together, the seamless experiences, that's when technology starts working for you, and that is our goal for consumers,” Microsoft corporate vice president of consumer marketing, Brad Brooks, said.

“2010 is going to be the biggest year for Xbox. It's a powerful consumer brand with a worldwide consumer community,” Microsoft senior vice president, mobile communications, Andy Lees added. “This is the year that Xbox goes beyond the box. Your Xbox avatar, achievements and friends will be all linked up to your phone. Xbox Live allows you to play games on the go – there will be a raft of Xbox titles available on Windows Phone 7.”

This level of integration between PCs, mobiles and consoles is the kind of thing that the other gaming vendors would find more difficult – especially Nintendo which has no capabilities outside of console gaming. The potential customer lock-in to Windows systems through the private cloud is impressive.


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