A gossip-fuelling analyst report issued in the US today pegs a portable Xbox as coming to market inside the next 18 months, music to the ears of industry watchers and those with a bent for arguing about videogames.
The paper published by The Diffusion Groups believes Microsoft not only can, but will release a portable games machine between late 2007 and sometime in early 2008. The report, grandiosely entitled 'On the Future of Portable Game Consoles: Analysis & Forecasts' reads:
Microsoft has been waiting on the sidelines until its gaming console and software business reached sustainability, all the while watching closely how Nintendo and consumers in general would respond to Sony's PSP. With global PGC revenues expected to reach $3 billion annually by 2008, and with only Sony and Nintendo active in the PGC space, Microsoft has before it an incredible opportunity. It has a critical brand presence in the console space, the breadth and depth of gaming titles, and the marketing clout necessary to enter this space and win decent market share.
While licensing the software is consistent with Microsoft's larger strategy, and no doubt Microsoft has endured many failures in regard to hardware plays, the success of the Xbox presents Microsoft with a unique opportunity. Microsoft owns an established and highly-regarded hardware brand, meaning that they can enter the PGC market from a position of strength, a privilege not enjoyed by any other player except those already active in the PGC space.
Of course, a portable Xbox being in the works at Redmond is a rumour, relatively well grounded, that has existed from the moment the original Xbox was announced. This report is far from concrete on the matter, offering input from exactly zero sources at Microsoft, though it does highlight the ease at which the software company could deploy a very effective Trojan into the portable gaming arena.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more.