Thursday, October 9, 2008

Microsoft reportedly ready to ship Xbox 360 Blu-ray drive

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft still denies that it will be offering a Blu-ray extension for its Xbox 360 game console and gave every indication that it might skip the Blu-ray trend altogether and focus on movie downloads. Not so fast, says Xbit Labs, which learned that an external Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 is ready to ship. Guess which company allegedly manufactures this drive.

We will leave it up to you to decide whether this news is actually a surprise or not, but considering Microsoft’s negative public stance against Blu-ray, it is worth the note that the company might ship an external Blu-ray drive with the same strategy as it shipped an external HD DVD drive in between November 2006 and March 2008.

Microsoft repeatedly mentioned that it would consider a Blu-ray drive, but said as recently as this May, that Blu-ray “isn’t taking off” and essentially squashed the rumors about such a drive back then. But if Xbit Labs is right, then the company may have been working a Blu-ray drive for some time: The site reports that Microsoft might launch the drive just in time for the holidays and aim for a $100- $150 price tag – in order to steal some sales from the PS3.

Xbit Labs also said that Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology (TSST), which is owned by Toshiba (51%) and Samsung (49%) – essentially the same company that previously built the HD DVD drive extension for the Xbox 360. In a global view, Microsoft’s move toward an external BD drive may be viewed as surprising, since Toshiba actually skips Blu-ray in favor of high-priced DVD players.

The argument that an external Blu-ray drive may pull in extra sales from the PS3 is somewhat shaky, as Microsoft learned that the strategy of an external HD DVD drive did not work. Blu-ray still has not significant traction in the market despite the fact that HD DVD is gone and player prices are approaching the $200 mark. Offering an Xbox 360 BD drive may capture lots of headlines, but we believe that selling such a product may be a big gamble for Microsoft.



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