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TMCNet:  SONY may only get consolation prize

[February 04, 2013]

SONY may only get consolation prize

Feb 04, 2013 (Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- With Sony expected to unveil the PlayStation 4 at a mystery event later this month and a new Xbox on the horizon, 2013 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for gaming consoles.

Yet there won't even be such a thing as a pure gaming console in a few years. The name of this game is home entertainment.

When the original Xbox debuted on Nov. 15, 2001, few gave it a chance against the wildly popular PlayStation. But the console slowly gained market share -- and four years later, the Xbox 360 wowed consumers with total sales reaching 76 million as of December.

Today, Xbox Live has become the central hub of home entertainment. In my house, I will likely drop my Comcast subscription in a matter of months. The Xbox provides me with Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and YouTube, a combined substitute that ends up being cheaper than traditional cable.

But the real game-clincher for Xbox is Kinect. The motion-sensing add-on became the fastest-selling consumer electronics device of all time (yes, faster than the iPhone and iPad). And it has further extended Microsoft's reach into the home, the value of which cannot be underestimated as the company struggles to succeed with Windows 8.

What's more, an app called SmartGlass allows you to turn your iOS or Android device into a remote control for the Xbox, seamlessly linking Xbox to PCs, tablets and phones. It's also native to the Windows Phone (incidentally, I highly recommend the HTC Windows 8X on Verizon as the best-kept smartphone secret on the market).

There's a chance the upcoming Xbox 720 (that's the rumored name) will include a feature that Microsoft Research is developing called IllumiRoom. It uses Kinect to extend images from your television to your living space, projecting the game you're playing onto the living room wall to create an immersive experience reminiscent of a Star Trek holodeck.

And while Sony's quest to compete is an uphill battle for all these reasons, the real loser in the gaming console war is clear: Nintendo.

Once the undisputed king of home entertainment, the company's new console, Wii U, has sold far fewer units than anticipated. Dedicated gaming consoles have no future, and traditional cable may not be far behind if Xbox has its way.

___ (c)2013 the Boston Herald Visit the Boston Herald at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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