On March 2, 2006, Microsoft's latest games machine the XBox 360 will go on sale throughout Australia. Set to retail at $650, it's not only billed as the latest in gaming hardware, there are also indications its media streaming capabilities will serve to boost the digital home market in Australia.
XBox Australia director, David McLean, said the company planned to focus its marketing efforts on the XBox 360 as a games machine in the initial phase.
"First and foremost, it is a powerful video games console, with other services added which makes it fit in to the digital media environment," he said. "We see the first wave of XBox 360 sales going out to hard core serious gamers, and the next to those who are looking to update their gaming experience."
However, in the same way the first Xbox cemented the use of DVD media by bringing a DVD player into the home of gamers across the country, industry pundits are predicting that the XBox 360 will have a similar effect on the digital media market.
Among the media features it promises are a DVD-ROM drive that can read Xbox 360 DVD, as well as a plethora of optical media formats from Video DVDs to music CDs and jpeg photos. Add to this a removable 20GB hard drive which can be used for anything from games saves or movies, as well as USB ports which allow for media streaming, and a media enabled remote control, and the product is a long way towards a single centralised digital media and data unit.
"We are interested in selling a few units through electronics boutiques such as JB Hi-Fi, but we are still focused on the gaming section in electronics and tech super stores," McLean said. "Our main message is going to be around the wireless features of the XBox 360, as well as its form. It can operate either upright for flat, so it looks like an entertainment device, and would work just as well in the lounge room or on a desk."