In a recent interview with Gizmodo, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft and well known sweaty maniac, hinted that consumers would be able to buy Blu-ray drives as accessories for the Xbox 360 in the future.
Microsoft later released a statement suggesting that Steve was actually referring to add-on drives for PCs, not for the Xbox 360. They then reiterated that they have no plans to release a Blu-ray add-on and pointed out that the future of home entertainment actually lies in streaming videos "in the highest form of high definition".
This move may not translate internationally as well as it would in the US. Unfortunately, not all internet connections are built equally. Not only could bandwidth present an issue, but also download quota. Americans might be surprised to learn that in Australia, we don't pay for our internet connection based on the speed, we pay based on how much data we use. It costs a heck of a lot to haul data across the pacific in order to get it here, so this cost is passed on to consumers. If Microsoft deliver their "highest form of high definition" these streaming files would presumably be quite large and could cost consumers quite a bit more than just the price of the content itself.
Are Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot with this decision? In the most recent battle of the format wars, they backed HD-DVD. Unfortunately, they picked the wrong horse and a lot of consumers now have an add-on drive sitting in their lounge room that they can't buy any discs for. By throwing everything into streaming HD video, they're essentially skipping a generation of media delivery.
The advantages, despite the initial cost of Blu-ray, may work out to be more appealing than the convenience of not having to go anywhere to get your movie, or TV show. Additionally, a large portion of consumers will only have a 20 GB hard drive on their Xbox. At a guess, this might hold one or two movies on top of all the files you're already storing. A Blu-ray add-on drive could be just what the Xbox 360 needs to surge ahead of the PS3 in the sales charts. Blu-ray is certainly the only reason I own a PS3!
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