Though Microsoft's Xbox brand has been synonymous with gaming since the original console's launch in 2001, the software giant is shifting its focus to entertainment.
"Xbox is the gateway to games, music, movies, and TV shows--in short, it is central to entertainment," Frank Shaw, Microsoft's vice president for corporate communications, wrote on his company's blog yesterday. "Put simply, Xbox [equals] entertainment and is core to our entertainment strategy."
It might make some sense when one considers the importance of non-gaming activity on the Xbox 360. According to Shaw, 40 percent of all Xbox activity has nothing to do with games whatsoever. Moreover, Shaw says that the average gamer watches 30 hours of video on his or her Xbox each month, a figure that he claims, "is growing fast."
Microsoft's entertainment options come through its Xbox Live service. In addition to providing online gaming and video game downloads, the service offers movies and television shows. The platform also boasts Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus, and ESPN content, among other services.
However, Microsoft isn't alone in delivering entertainment through its game console. Nintendo offers a Web browser on its Wii and game downloads. Sony's PlayStation 3 is packed with entertainment opportunities, including access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, its Qriocity music service, and more. That platform also includes a Blu-ray drive. Microsoft's Xbox 360 comes with a DVD drive.
Shaw further wrote on Microsoft's blog that this year, the company will be marketing the Xbox "more as an entertainment brand."
By doing so, Microsoft might be taking a page out of Sony's book. The PlayStation 3 maker has been using the "It Only Does Everything" slogan to promote its console for quite some time now. The idea is to make it clear to consumers that the PlayStation 3 is as much about entertainment as it is about gaming.
Perhaps to better differentiate its message, Microsoft is planning to rely upon its. Shaw said that Microsoft believes Kinect, which allows users to play games and control the Xbox with only the movement of their bodies, helps to "make the entertainment experience that much easier--and more fun."
Shaw added that Microsoft plans to discuss the Xbox as an entertainment platform in more detail at the E3 video game expo starting next week in Los Angeles. Be sure to keep checking CNET next week for all the details coming out of that show.