Microsoft will release its next Xbox console in time for the 2013 holiday season, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The report cites the usual “people familiar with the company's plans.” Microsoft hasn't decided when to announce its next gaming console, the sources say, but the big reveal might happen during the E3 trade show in June or at a separate launch event.
Bloomberg's report didn't have any details on the console itself, but leaked planning documents and other sources hint at a Blu-ray player, broadcast DVR, a much more accurate version of Kinect, and of course the requisite boost in processing power and memory. Microsoft may even be planning augmented reality glasses to complement the console, which would work in tandem with Kinect for a Holodeck-like experience.
There's also been talk of a pared-down “Xbox Mini,” focused on casual games and streaming media to compete with cheaper boxes such as Apple TV and Roku.
A late 2013 launch wouldn't be a big surprise, given the game industry's slumping sales. The Xbox 360 did have a strong Black Friday, with more than 750,000 consoles sold in the United States alone, but this is likely a temporary boost in light of the holiday bundles that Microsoft is offering. (In fact, Microsoft's Black Friday 2011 sales were better by about 210,000 units.) Microsoft might not want to let another holiday season go by without new hardware, especially if Nintendo's Wii U gathers momentum in the year ahead.
It's interesting, though, that Microsoft may choose to announce the next Xbox at its own event, rather than at E3. The industry trade show is known for big previews, but the tech world in general has taken a liking to separate launch events, where companies can have their own time in the spotlight instead of competing for attention. Phone and tablet makers regularly schedule standalone press events to announce flagship products, taking after Apple and its famous keynotes; the video game industry could be next.