Microsoft has started early planning for the next Xbox to come out in 2015 — 10 years after the Xbox 360 first appeared.Last night, ZDNet discovered a portfolio image from a designer named Ben Patterson with the cryptic note “collaboration with Microsoft’s IEB Design group investigating future user experiences and hardware for 2015.” The image itself was just a black edge, and now it’s been removed from Patterson’s site.
In addition, Microsoft posted some job listings back in February that point to early work on the next Xbox.
There are a couple of openings on the Xbox Console Architecture Team, which is responsible for “defining and delivering next generation console architectures.” Another ad is for a researcher on the Xbox Incubation Team that can create “industry changing experiences” like Kinect.
The 2015 date isn’t new. Back in 2009, Xbox games leader Shane Kim told VentureBeat “we firmly believe the console has a lifecycle through 2015.” That’s mainly thanks to Kinect, which will keep existing users engaged so they don’t send the Xbox into the hall closet in favour of some newer gadget, and might attract some new users as well.
It makes business sense for Microsoft to keep the current console around for as long as possible to keep hardware costs down. At launch of the original Xbox and Xbox 360, Microsoft lost at least $100 per unit, and only gradually crept into the black. (The business model has always been to make money on games and Xbox Live, not hardware.)
But four years is an eternity at Microsoft — usually, product teams have no firm marching orders beyond 18 to 24 months — so any designs that leak now will probably bear no resemblance to what actually ships.
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