Microsoft: New Xbox 360 In Development for Two Years

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Xbox 360 slim

GO: The aesthetic parities with the original Xbox are striking. The X-shape, the beveled vent on the side--it almost looks like a lither, sleeker original-style Xbox.

AP: That's exactly what we were trying to do. Really the design goals were to retain the iconic Xbox shape. We talked a lot about that inhale, the center power button ring of light as the dominant image on the front of the console, the inhale shape. We wanted this to look like an Xbox 360. We wanted to unmistakably maintain that iconic shape.

But we were, as I always kind of remind people, at this point in the lifecycle of the original Xbox, launching the Xbox 360. So you sort of take cues from what more modern designs are. Where is automotive design heading, what's going on with television and entertainment centers. We wanted a sleeker, more modern and refined looking console that was still iconically an Xbox.

GO: I've been critical in the past of Microsoft's USB WLAN adapter's pricing at $100, and now you've essentially tucked that $100 inside the new Xbox 360 without boosting the price. How are you able to absorb the $100 differential?

AP: Any time we talk about pricing it's a touchy subject. There's multiple approaches to this, so let's start from the beginning. If you go back to 2005 and think about what the industry was like then, things like WiFi were premium add-on parts, people were still using [Xbox 360] memory units, and the accessory ecosystem was a lot different than it is now. You know, everything was an accessory. We were actually lauded for having an inbuilt ethernet port, because for the PS2, you needed to buy an accessory just to connect to the internet.

At the time we were designing the Xbox 360, we were right at the technology curve where WiFi was still pretty expensive. People always ask why we didn't add WiFi to the box. Well, we didn't design the console to have WiFi built in. People tell us to just take the adapter and put it inside, and then the engineers roll their eyes and remind everyone why the console has to be designed for it for space and signal reason.

The other thing is, in terms of pricing, we're not the manufacturers of these parts and the dongles. It's always hard for me to take the comparison with what someone can get at Fry's [Home Electronics] on sale from a no-name manufacturer, that you have to fiddle with your PC where you've got driver conflicts. It's a little more roll-your-own in the PC world.

We have specific requirements, they all have to be exactly the same, they need to be built a certain way. When you're building stuff for a console that has to be very consumer friendly and manufactured to different tolerances and specifications, it's not exactly the same as the free market on the PC. I mean, I absolutely understand why people draw the conclusions they do on pricing, but the realities of the business...it's not that way. We're not Linksys, who's clearing stuff out to Fry's to sell through last year's model.

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