A few days ago, we reported on a rumor going around that there would be a new, upgraded Xbox 360 in 2010 that would incorporate Microsoft's Project Natal technology. Well, we didn't expect Microsoft to come right out and tell us a new one was coming--and a few Microsoft execs did indeed deny that a new 360 was in the works. But a few blogs are reporting that CEO Steve Ballmer let word of new Xbox 360 slip out in a speech he gave Tuesday at the Executives' Club of Chicago.
TG Daily was the source for the original story, and I have to say the quote sounds pretty dubious.
"Rumors can be confirmed," the article declares, "as Ballmer stated openly during a speech on the recession to those in attendance at the Executives' Club in Chicago, a new Xbox 360 will hit the store shelves in 2010."
The only problem is the quote that follows this quote is rather ambiguous.
"The new device will be equipped with technology that is 'really, really close' to an actuality. The console, which was described as having a 'natural interface,' will have a built-in camera with the ability to recognize movement and voice."
Read it a couple of times and it's really pretty unclear whether Ballmer was talking about a new console or just the concept of Project Natal. We're betting he was talking more about the new technology coming to fruition in 2010 and not necessarily a whole new Xbox 360.
Now, there's nothing wrong with a good, attention-grabbing headline (I'm a sucker for them). But we're going to proceed a little more cautiously with this one and await word on whether Ballmer really let it slip--or whether something got jumbled in the translation.
(Source: TG Daily)
Update: While Microsoft reps are still trying to figure out just what Steve Ballmer said (they've requested a transcript of the event), Aaron Greenberg, group product manager for Xbox 360, said there would be no new XBox 360 for 2010 and he reiterated that Project Natal would be compatible with all existing XBox consoles (no new hardware except the camera will be required). However, that doesn't mean Microsoft won't continue making tweaks to the XBox 360's components, upgrading chips and other parts as it's already done.
Microsoft passed on this statement to me regarding this post:
"As the Xbox team stated at E3 two weeks ago, we are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade. Project Natal will be an important part of this platform, but we have not confirmed a launch date at this time."