Microsoft predicts quarterly sales of 5 million Kinect units for Xbox 360, says a new Bloomberg report, as it seeks to compete against Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii.
Microsoft predicts sales of its Kinect hands-free controller
will top 5 million units during the quarter, according to Bloomberg. The device,
which allows Xbox players to control their onscreen avatars through body
movement, will battle for marketplace dominance against both the Nintento Wii
and Sony's Move controller.
The prediction of 5 million units represents an increase
from the 3 million previously estimated by Microsoft. The Bloomberg article
paraphrases Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment
Business, as basing the revised figure on a combination of retail sales,
audience awareness and pre-orders.
Formerly code-named Project Natal, Kinect
utilizes a 3D camera to track 48 points of movement on the user's body, and
then translate those movements to the digital avatar. It represents Microsoft's
attempt to extend the lifecycle of the five-year-old Xbox 360, and expand that
console's audience to more casual gamers.
Kinect also offers Microsoft the chance for a big win in the
consumer space, where the company's track record has been mixed of late.
Although the Xbox franchise has begun to generate revenue after years of
losses, other products have either failed to attract much attention or outright
crash-and-burned. The Zune HD, a portable media player whose design was praised
by critics, failed to gain much traction against Apple's dominant iPod line.
And the Kin phones, meant to appeal to social networking-happy hipsters, failed
miserably soon after their release earlier this year.
That mixed record helped spark a massive reorganization of
Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division in May, one that saw the
departures of both unit president Robbie Bach and J Allard, its senior vice
president of design and development.
"This has been a vampire division since its inception. A
vampire division is one that lives off the value created by the rest of the
company and, from a corporate perspective, does more damage than good," Rob
Enderle, principal analyst of the Enderle Group, told eWEEK in May. "Its
profit, which wasn't much, was massively offset by the economic cost it caused
to the corporation and needed to be rethought."
In the wake of that purging, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
named Mattrick as head of the company's Interactive Entertainment Business, as
well as Andy Lees as president of Mobile Communications Business.
Microsoft also likely intends to use 3D sensing technology
for products beyond gaming. Recently, it agreed to acquire Canesta, a maker of
3D-image sensor chips and camera modules that can be embedded into a variety of
consumer products, including laptops and vehicle dashboards. That technology
allows for the creation of gesture-driven natural user interfaces, similar in
many ways to Kinect.
"There is little question that within the next decade we
will see natural user interfaces become common for input across all devices,"
Jim Spare, president and CEO of Canesta, wrote
in an Oct. 29 statement posted on the startup's Website
. "With Microsoft's
breadth of scope from enterprise to consumer products, market presence, and
commitment to NUI, we are confident that our technology will see wide adoption
across many applications that embody the full potential of the
If Microsoft intends to extend that 3D technology to a wider
variety of products, then the hundreds of millions reportedly being poured into
Kinect's marketing-which the company hopes will drive those 5 million sales
this quarter-will double as an investment in the future, by introducing
consumers to the idea of gesture control in a user-friendly way.