Flash analysis: Xbox One

1Executive Summary

On Tuesday, May 21, Microsoft raised the curtain on its first new gaming console in nearly seven years: the Xbox One.

While the event was fairly light in terms of details around the gaming aspects of the console — Microsoft is keeping some of its power dry for E3 in June —  the company was fairly comprehensive when discussing the new console’s media and entertainment capabilities.

In order to better understand how the Xbox One is being received by the larger tech community, we surveyed GigaOM’s own readership on the new offering.

We asked about respondents to give their assessments of some of the new features, including the new Kinect, the hypervisor/dual OS, the new overlay UI/set-top integration, and increased emphasis on cloud computing.

So which new feature of the Xbox One was chosen to have the biggest impact? According to our survey, the Kinect, with nearly half (45 percent) of respondents ranking it as a potentially significant differentiator. With a newly refreshed Kinect included with every new Xbox One console and a 10x improvement in sensory power, I agree with our respondents. In my opinion, such a jump could unlock potential new game and user-interaction scenarios around navigation, advertising, and entertainment.

One feature our respondents were not as high on was the hypervisor/dual-OS, with only 35 percent seeing it as a big deal. This is not all that surprising since it’s mainly an “under-the-hood” improvement, but my feeling is it’s a fairly significant technical leap for Microsoft, and it could a big competitive weapon against Sony  (assuming that company doesn’t announce something similar at E3). By using a hypervisor which runs both a gaming and Windows 8 kernel for apps and other types of programs, Microsoft can develop both the gaming and entertainment/apps platforms at its own pace and not be held back by the other. It also allows new virtualized operating environments to be spun up while maintaining the core stability of the baseline Xbox OS.

We also asked our respondents about their overall perception of the health of the gaming console market as we enter this new generation. With all the changes over the past seven years — the arrival of tablets and the rise of cloud-centric gaming — you’d think our tech-savvy audience would be fairly down on the consoles, but more than half (57 percent) felt fairly positive about the prospects for the new console generation. The other 42 percent felt the market was going to contract, with 12 percent telling us the console market was a dinosaur on the brink of extinction.

We also asked our respondents to pick a winner for the coming generation, as well as which company they felt had the best chance to capture the digital living room in the coming years. All of this data and our analysis can be found in the following report, as well as select open-ended responses about the console battle and the future direction of the market by many of our readers.

Note: Names from all open-ended responses in this report are not revealed, for the purpose of privacy and anonymity. 

 

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