Rumor: Xbox Natal Could Be Actually Microsoft's Next Console?

First to post this?

Here’s why this rumor is false.

The rush is not to price increases, which is what a new chip, more RAM, flash hard drives, etc. will bring. The rush is to the LOWEST price, and the only way you get to the lowest price is to not innovate anything.

They may rebrand the Xbox 360 + Natal bundle. Xbox Fluid or something like that. But it won’t be a new console. Maybe they’ll repaint it or make it thinner, but it’ll be the same ole 360 guts in there, and the price will be lower.

The rules have changed. None of the 1st parties are in a rush to push something out that’s back at the $399+ price point. The race is to $99 now.

Comes pre-supplied with SonyTM KATAS technology to provide the complete experience (no actual cats’ asses required).

I totally agree with this, but I think there are certain hardware “upgrades” that essentially pay for themselves. Building in Wi-Fi is cheap - it’s in every smartphone, every Nintendo DS and PSP, and so on - and it opens up Live to that huge host of potential mass-market customers that aren’t going to run Ethernet to their living rooms, nor buy an accessory that costs 50% of what the console does to get it online. It gives them “out of the box” online and they can even add getting on Live to the initial setup. (and they can get that extra “wow” factor when you just spell out your WiFi password out loud and the Natal mic pics it up) I would guess the additional amount of money people will spend buying stuff on Live would offset the cost.

Jasper units already have 256MB of internal flash. It’s almost free it’s so cheap - the expensive part was building it into the platform. Right now, 32gigs of flash costs something like $40-45 in bulk, I think. Maybe a bit less. Next year it’ll be $20. Now $20 per console isn’t nothing, but if they change the shape their existing hard drives won’t fit anymore. Even if they don’t, it’s a move that will get cheaper at an exponential rate and give everyone an out-of-the-box place to put the stuff they download off Live.

Combined, building in Wi-Fi and a 32GB “memory unit” would cost MS like $25 per console, tops, and that price would drop to less than $10 over two years. But it would get their whole mass market, right from the moment of setup, getting on Live and buying Avatar accessories, XBLA games, Live Gold subscriptions, etc. They’d make their money back from each customer in the first 6 months, if that.

So those are upgrades where they could eat the cost and still push the console price down. Hell, if they drop the hard drive interface on a new, “xbox 360 slim” design, they could save even more.

Yeah, except I think MS wants to give consumers more storage space than that. They now have a great direct-to-consumer platform for all kinds of entertainment and 32GB fills up fast, especially with HD.

Agree on built-in wi-fi.

Here’s why the “rumor” is false: it’s not a rumor, it’s a fanboy “what if?” The reasons to change the base configuration are not business reasons, they are broken fanboy logic.

A slimmed design (with added flash storage and wifi), a natal bundle, a big marketing push, these are all plausible.

An “upgraded” CPU, GPU and memory? These are stupid ideas. Stupid like “MS should just sell the 360 for $99 and destroy everyone!” Stupid like “Sony should sell a version of the PS3 without the Blu-ray.” Stupid like, “The US should abolish the Senate.” These only make sense if you don’t know what you are talking about.

Xbox Monad.

They’re going to upgrade to 8800gt era gpus because Nvidia is tired of producing the existing xbox chips. Then nvidia will sell their 3d glasses to go with the affordable 3d-capable dlp tv’s that have been on the market a while now, thereby helping nextbox natal shift the movie enthusiasts back away from the ps3 and blu-ray, in favor of 3d capability.

My fanboy logic is inexorable!

Of course, the 360 launched with 20GB.

You’re right that it fills up fast, especially for the hardcore. For the bigger broader more casual market that jumps in at the lower price points, and that MS will target with all the marketing for whatever they name the Natal thing, maybe not so much.

I think 32GB is a good “base” configuration that lets you buy quite a few XBLA games, lots of avatar crap, download a few demos, play 1 vs 100, and even have a few hi-def movies downloaded. MS wants you to have more, but they want you to pay the crazy accessory markup prices for it. Like with a flash expansion module that costs $99 for 128GB (more than twice the going rate for late 2010).

Or hell, maybe it’s just 8GB and they want you to expand it with accessories. Either way, I think if they’re changing the form factor and thus making the snap-on hard drives they have now not fit, it probably makes good economic sense to scrap the SATA drive interface altogether and build in enough flash to get people online and buying XBLA stuff.

I think they’ll probably maintain the mechanical hard drive option. They can ship out a version with flash memory on the mobo and a waiting expansion port for the standard 360 hard drives.

They JUST enabled downloadable full games and installing games to the hard drive. Microsoft is FOOLISH if they don’t take away the physical hard drive immediately!

This makes sense to me. Basically it’s co-opting the Nintendo style upgrades that they use for the DS.

They’d essentially be creating the “360n”. And why not?

This will get them all the PR they’re looking for, while creating a more mainstream buzz for the product that may (may) get them some of the Wii audience looking to upgrade their experience.

The 1UP article is kind of silly because it’s trying to shove a new marketing strategy into the existing limitations of how consoles are launched, when this seem to be about trying a stepped strategy.

The Fallon demo shows that they’ve clearly already started rolling out the marketing.

Well on the cheapest model, they already have. The 360 Arcade, at $199, forgoes the hard drive and has built-in flash. It’s small at 256MB, but they still expect people interested in downloading even a game demo (outside of some smaller XBLA games) to buy an accessory to add storage.

I’m simply proposing that, specifically for this new model that would bundle with the natal thingy and be aimed at the mass market, they would want to increase that to a size where people could more fully take advantage of Live. At 32GB, you can still download a couple full games or install a couple games to your hard drive, even.

My thought about scrapping the hard drive doesn’t presume there would be no storage upgrade option. You’d go buy a special Xbox 360 storage upgrade accessory - an overpriced flash module similar to the current overpriced hard drives. I’m only saying it makes sense for them to do this if they redesign the box, making it slimmer and smaller. The current hard drive accessories are shaped to snap onto the current unit. Hard drive or flash, they’d need a new one anyway.

I think that’s right, the 32GB flash takes the place of the Core. It’s the new minimum. They can sell an external doodad for the equivalent to the Pro version.

It’s crazy selling hard drives even as small as 60 with flash prices trending the way they are. They can hack up an adapter for people who really want to use their old drives.

Alright, I’ll subscribe to your newsletter, Jason. New, redesigned, smaller X360 + Natal + 32GB flash - hard drive. $199 is my prediction, since that’s probably what Wii will be at when it launches. $249 if Wii hasn’t dropped their price.

Edit: in fact, I’ll go a step further and say that Microsoft will discontinue all non-Natal SKUs at that time and launch a second redesigned Xbox 360n SKU + Natal + big ole hard drive (120? 250?) for base price + $100.

The one thing that they will NOT do is build in a Blu-Ray drive. My hunch is that they, like Apple, are hitching their wagon to the direct download model being the long term winner and opting out of the Blu-Ray battle all together.

Or else they are just not making a movie player. The only consoles that were ever notable for playing movies were the PS2 and PS3, and Microsoft doesn’t have to “take a position” to avoid putting expensive hardware in their boxes.

The flash is just a guess, and it’s only if they redesign the console, making their hard drive form factor incompatible. Might not be 32GB, I was just using that as a cost comparison, but it seems like a good number. I think their smartest move is built-in Wi-Fi though. They desperately want to get people hooked on the Live service. That’s their best bridge to the next generation…that’s their lock-in, and their biggest differentiator.

Edit: in fact, I’ll go a step further and say that Microsoft will discontinue all non-Natal SKUs at that time and launch a second redesigned Xbox 360n SKU + Natal + big ole hard drive (120? 250?) for base price + $100.

I’m sure they’ll still have several SKUs. And they’ll still sell something branded and marketed as the Xbox 360. The question is whether or not it’ll be redesigned (externally…the internals will continue to evolve to cheaper revisions) or not. If not, then the big hard drive option makes sense. If it’s redesigned, then it’s all a matter of whether or not their current hard drive accessories would fit. After all, 128GB of flash by next fall will cost them $80 at the most, and if that’s the only difference between it and the 32GB version with a $100 increase in price…

The one thing that they will NOT do is build in a Blu-Ray drive. My hunch is that they, like Apple, are hitching their wagon to the direct download model being the long term winner and opting out of the Blu-Ray battle all together.

Yeah, what with the movie store being upgraded to Zune branding and instant-start 1080p this fall, I think that will continue to be their push.

I think they are keen on the 360 being seen as a movie player, but more of an “on demand” style one. Again, gotta get that Wi-Fi built in and get people on Live, renting movies, using Netflix streaming, etc.

Blu-ray might still be important to them in the next generation. By then (2012? 2013?) Blu-ray will have penetrated homes even more. But more importantly, if they’re still going to rely on the system having slim no real retail markup and retailers selling packaged goods, they’ll need the storage space because AAA games will get bigger and they’re maxing out DVDs in this gen.

Agreed. And the Wii is doing fine with downloads with 512MB. If Microsoft can tap these users, upgrading to even 20GB would be a huge increase for them.

I’d also add that they can support SD cards, like the Wii, which are quite cheap and can expand the console’s memory footprint. Casual gamers are already familiar with SD cards due to cameras, etc.

I don’t think the people who will wait around to download a 8GB file is the same audience that Natal is targeting. a

I am sure they are keen on it. They want us to rent movies by waving our hands in the air.

This is clearly a grab at the new market the Nintendo Wii opened up, and XBL, XBLA games, and renting movies are probably easier sells to the people who play Wii Sports and nothing else. $60 games don’t fly with grandma.


June 18, 2009 - Perhaps all those crazy rumors we’ve heard over the past week were true.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly spoke at The Executive’s Club of Chicago about “the role of innovation in changing economic times” this afternoon. And according to TGdaily, he announced the company’s plan to release a new Xbox 360 next year.

The system will be “‘really, really, close’ to an actuality” and was described as having a “natural interface.” There will also be a “built in” camera, which is believed to be the Natal device Microsoft revealed at the latest E3

We contacted Microsoft for comment on this and we’ll update when we hear anything.