Oh, poor Microsoft and their declining business. No one thinks they're cool anymore, and that surely means they are going down in flames. After all, they only pulled in a measly $20 billion in revenue last quarter. Wait, what? Indeed, good old Microsoft has had a record quarter with nearly $20 billion in sales, working out to $6.63 billion in profit after all the bills are paid. That's $0.77 per share for you stock market folks.
The cheers are surly rattling the windows up in Redmond on the news. The Entertainment and Devices division saw a 55% increase in revenue on the strength of Kinect and the Xbox 360. This is rather astonishing seeing as the division that makes Windows is only $1.3 billion ahead of the Xbox folks now. That used to be a much wider gulf. All the more reason to milk the current console generation that much more.
One Microsoft product that isn't getting much attention is Windows Phone 7. If it had made an impact on the bottom line, we assume Ballmer would have been dancing on the roof, or something like that. Still, with these sorts of numbers, they can afford to build WP7 slowly.
The Xbox 360 was first released on November 22, 2005 in the U.S. and Canada, just over five years ago today (by a week). As CNet notes, the coming and passing of the Xbox 360's fifth birthday without a successor in sight could very well mark the end of the 5-year console cycle that's been in place for three decades, give or take a couple of years between releases. Check it out:
Nintendo Entertainment System: 1985
Super NES: 1991
Nintendo 64: 1996
Nintendo GameCube: 2001
Nintendo Wii: 2006
Sony has kept the same cycle, releasing the original PlayStation console in 1995 followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2000 and the PlayStation 3 in 2006. Microsoft's first Xbox showed up in 2001.
Looking ahead, there aren't any new consoles on the horizon from any of the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony). Instead, each company has found other ways to extend the shelf-life of their existing consoles. Sony, for example, added 3D support, while both Sony and Microsoft recently launched their own take on motion controlled gaming. Nintendo hasn't been as active, but did add disc-less Netflix to the mix as well as various add-ons, like the Wii Balance Board and Wii Draw tablet.
On top of it, all three current-generation consoles are more adept than ever as serving as viable home theater media centers.
Which console(s) do you own, and do you plan on purchasing one before the end of 2010?
Microsoft is riding high on the recent release of Windows Phone 7 and Kinect. But if you thought the Redmond company was all through jamming their collective feet in their mouths, think again. Microsoft's Dennis Durkin made some rather interesting comments at a recent investment summit. He told investors, in part, that Kinect could be used to determine who is in the room, what they're doing, and even what they are wearing. All this to more effectively serve up ads.
Microsoft has denied that these statements in any way outline their plans for Kinect. However, it would seem someone at Microsoft has at least been kicking around the idea. Do you think this is an inevitability, or just tinfoil hat fodder?
One of the things we love about the Xbox 360 console is that it's so much more than just a gaming device. Case in point: while speaking to attendees of BMO Capital Markets Digital Entertainment Conference in New York, Dennis Durkin, head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, said that the Xbox 360 is used for games just 60 percent of the time, CNet reports.
"What we found is that the core gamer might be the person who brought the console into the house, but as you widen the choices of content, it broadens what people can do with the system," Durkin said.
That other 40 percent belongs to a variety of non-gaming activities, like watching Netflix or listening to music. Even Twitter and Facebook are accessible through the console.
Surprised by Durkin's figures, or does that pretty much describe your usage habits as well? Hit the jump and tell us how often you use your console for actual gaming, whether you're rocking an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii.
Well, somebody's feeling confident. On the eve of the launch of Microsoft Kinect, the purveyor of Xboxes has increased their worldwide Kinect sales projections to 5 million units. Microsoft was previously only expecting 3 million sales. That's nothing to sneeze at, but 5 million is a great launch for a $150 accessory. If Kinect can hit the projections, that would make it the biggest Xbox product launch ever.
The Kinect will launch with a catalog of 17 games. The system is a visual recognition system that will supposedly do away with the controller in these games. Microsoft may be feeling more optimistic due to the huge numbers of Xbox 360s already in the wild. If gamers can't get a new console yet, they may be willing to spring for something that makes the Xbox feel new in some ways.
Microsoft's first quarter numbers are in, and the Redmond giant made a killing. Profits were up 51% over last year according to Seattle PI. This is pretty great for a company that has more or less been treading water for the last few years. The market tends to only reward growth, which has been bad for Microsoft. After the announcement, Microsoft shares rose a percent, which is something at least.
"This was an exceptional quarter combining solid enterprise growth and continue strong consumer demand for Office 2010, Windows 7 and Xbox 360," said Microsoft CFO Peter Klein. Microsoft's sales were up 25% from just one year ago, but part of that gain is from deferred revenue ahead of the Windows 7 launch last year. Most divisions turned a profit for Microsoft, even the Entertainment and Devices unit managed a $382 million profit. Many commentators are quick to dismiss Microsoft, but they are clearly still humming along.
Stephen McGill, the head honcho of Microsoft Xbox in the UK, said in a recent interview with Xbox 360 Achievements that the Blu-ray format is not long for this world. He was asked if he feels the DVD format will ultimately shorten the Xbox 360's lifespan rather than adopt Blu-ray and buy a bit of extra time.
"I think people may have spoken about that originally, but that's long gone," McGill said. "I think people now recognize what a smart decision it was to keep the pricing low, and actually Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"
McGills isn't really saying anything new from the Microsoft camp, which previously was banking on HD-DVD winning the HD format war. Back in 2005, Bill Gates delcared that Blu-ray would be the end of the road for physical media.
"Understand that [Blu-ray] is th last physical format there will ever be," Gates said. "Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk."
A desktop is more than just a computer. It’s also your entertainment center, eager and willing to provide you with endless hours of gaming, movies and music. As time goes on, it has become more and more common to see PC’s synched to TVs as people are beginning to see the advantages of having easy, living room-wide entertainment powered by their computers. I don’t even own a monitor (or a desk for that matter)--my desk-less desktop computer is hooked up to a Panasonic HD TV hanging on my wall, and it’s most often controlled by a wireless keyboard and mouse from the nearest sofa or bed. If this sounds like a familiar (or ideal) set up, this article may be helpful to you.
The downside to utilizing this sort of a set-up lies strictly in loss of control. A wireless keyboard and mouse combo will work for basic computer tasking, but are slow and often unreliable - especially for tasks like watching movies or gaming where you truly need a quick response. And, if you’re sitting clear across the room like me, getting a wired keyboard and mouse with extra-long extensions seems a little excessive.
There is, however, a simple alternative. Have a wired console controller tucked away somewhere, gathering dust? I’ll bet you do. Using open source programs like Xpadder, you can configure that very controller to become a tool to help you with your day-to-day, distance computing needs.
All then attention right now is on Microsoft's revamped Xbox 360 console, which sports a sleek new design and runs both cooler and quieter. So can we also expect a redesigned Xbox 360 Arcade?
Word on the Web is that Microsoft is readying a new Xbox 360 Slim Arcade bundle that will up the storage ante to 4GB. It's not clear how that additional storage will be added, only that it won't be in the form of a hard drive. That leaves two options - increasing the embedded 512MB to 4GB, or supplementing it with a USB key.
The rumor mill also reports a small price drop could be forthcoming. New models might ship for $189 instead of $199, which isn't a whole lot of ducats, but still enticing considering the additional storage.
The American Dream, which calls for a wife, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence, never took into consideration the mounting cost of Xbox Live Gold memberships for the entire family, which adds up rather quickly. To help address this, come November Microsoft will begin selling Xbox Live Gold Family Packs for $100, which will offer up to four individual Gold memberships for the price of two.
More than just four Live Gold accounts, the Family Pack also opens up a few additional perks, including a new Family Center accessible through the Xbox dashboard. As Microsoft explains it, you can expect easier family management, access to activity monitoring reports, and the ability to purchase and give away Microsoft Points to little Johnny rather than pay him an allowance.
There will also be exclusive family content and discounts, though Microsoft didn't outline exactly what these would entail. For more info, check out the full press release here.