Bill Gates might be making an Xbox 360 2.0 announcement at his CES keynote swan song, the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley predicts in a column today.
While I'm not totally on-board with his prediction for Gates' 360 announcements at CES this weekend, I agree with the main thrust. Dudley believes that after doing some inevitable crowing Gates will wow the crowds with an announcement that Microsoft is preparing to license the 360 platform to select consumer electronic companies.
In particular, Microsoft could work with Toshiba to develop a digital video recorder with a hard-drive, high-definition HD-DVD drive and Xbox gaming capabilities. They're already allied against Sony and other backers of the Blu-ray DVD format, and Toshiba could help Xbox finally penetrate the Japanese market.
Microsoft could also make a splash by announcing plans to give the Xbox 360 an internal HD-DVD drive, putting it on par with Sony's PlayStation 3 that has a built-in Blu-ray drive.
I know that when I met with Gates last year at CES he was all about an IPTV 360 so we know the concept of licensing the 360 to consumer product folks has been in the works for awhile, even if it's only to cable companies. Teaming up with a company to add DVR functionality also seems like an almost no-brainer. In fact, back with the 360 first launched I asked an exec about that very thing, mostly because of the buttons available on the 360's big universal remote, and was told that it was an idea they were playing around with. And built-in HD-DVD for some models? Sure why not. Obviously the format remains a contender, so it makes sense that Microsoft finally throw a bit more of their weight into the format war. It's also interesting to note that the add-on seems to getting cleared out through sales.
What I suspect will happen is that Gates will have some sort of general announcement about a deal with a cable provider or providers for a 360 featuring IPTV and perhaps a DVR to boot.. and that about five minutes later my brother will call me up super pissed that he bought a 360 without that feature built in.
Visions of Gates' keynote swan song [Seattle Times]