Now that Sony’s Blu-ray has beaten Toshiba’s HD DVD in the next-gen DVD format war, HD DVD backers must figure out what’s next. For Microsoft, that means figuring out how to integrate Blu-ray with the Xbox 360, which until now has been an HD DVD-only platform.
SmartHouse reports that Microsoft has already built a standalone, external Blu-ray player for the Xbox, which could go on sale within three months. If true, this means that Xbox owners could watch Blu-ray discs without buying a new set-top box, or worse, one of rival Sony’s PS3s. What it doesn’t mean: That Microsoft will build Blu-ray drives directly into the Xbox.
Why not? We can think of two reasons:
- Price: Blu-ray drives are pricey components that have made the PS3 a money loser for Sony (in the near-term, at least).
- Corporate focus: Unlike Sony, Microsoft hasn’t bet its future on a disc format. Sony needs to push Blu-ray via PS3 in order to support other businesses. But ultimately, Microsoft is more interested in pushing digital movie downloads/rentals from its Xbox Live marketplace — which doesn’t require a DVD drive at all.
Update: Commenter Jason Unger points out that SmartHouse doesn’t have the best reputation, so treat this as a rumour at best for now.
Update: At any rate, Microsoft doesn’t expect the death of HD DVD to hurt Xbox sales. “We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace,” the company told Reuters. “We will wait until we hear from Toshiba before announcing any specific plans around the Xbox 360 HD DVD player.”
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