A cheaper Xbox console without a disc drive is coming to take on the Apple TV in the casual gaming market. That’s according to a new report that says Microsoft could be planning to bring the Xbox brand and the Windows Store to a new category of devices outside of the high-end gaming and entertainment market that the console now services.
A new report from technology website Petri indicates that Microsoft could have revived plans to create an Xbox console that isn’t built to be a game machine. Allegedly, the goal of this device is to deliver a solid entertainment experience and access to apps from Microsoft’s Windows Store. This Xbox will cost less and be for casual gamers and those who want to use Microsoft’s entertainment services, but not invest in the $349 Xbox One console that’s readily available.
“I have heard from internal sources that the company is considering plans for a lightweight Xbox One that may only be for Windows store games and would compete with the Apple TV,” the report begins. The allegation comes at the beginning of an on-high look at what Microsoft could have planned for users at home during the 2016 calendar year. It’s said that if Microsoft does launch this smaller Xbox One, it would arrive during the last quarter of the 2016 calendar year.
There’s no potential price for this alleged tiny Xbox console.
Rumors of Microsoft creating a smaller Xbox console for entertainment lovers first surfaced before the launch of the Xbox One. The theory was that Microsoft planned to create this low-end console so that it could more effectively compete with set-top boxes. Such a device made sense at the time, the Xbox One launched with a $499 price tag.
At least theoretically all the reasons that watchers suspected Microsoft was building a smaller, less robust Xbox console to compete in the Apple TV segment of the market are still true. The Xbox One costs $349 today, still higher than the $149 Apple TV does. What’s more, there are other big players in the living room space all vying to be the next big digital platform. Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are viable and cheaper than any Xbox console available today. The Fire TV starts at $99.
In other ways, making a low-end Xbox console makes more sense now than it ever has before. 2015’s Apple TV marks the first time that developers have been able to create their own experiences for Apple users in the living room. Apps and games can be added to the Apple TV from the iTunes App Store effortlessly. A remote with a touchpad and accelerometer lets TV owners to play games. Amazon has its own dedicated video game studio working on titles for the Fire TV and its dedicated controller. Both consoles have voice control, something that Microsoft pioneered early on with the Kinect sensor for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
As small consoles are all betting on games, sales of last generation consoles are weakening. Early on, Microsoft was able to point to its Xbox 360 as a cheap alternative to purchasing the Xbox One. The Xbox 360 doesn’t offer all the same games, but does have an extensive library of entertainment apps. Retailers report that sales of both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are down sharply. The Xbox 360 is based on older technology and older software that isn’t capable of running apps and games from the Windows Store today.
Either the company has to bet that it’ll be able to significantly cut the price of the Xbox One in the near future or introduce a cheaper way for users to get access to its apps and games in the living room.
It’s worth noting that Sony has the PlayStation TV micro-console to address the same segment of the market that this rumored Xbox console is aimed at.
Microsoft has yet to comment publicly on these new tiny Xbox console rumors.