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On Eve of E3, Microsoft Hints at Xbox as its Sole Entertainment Brand

I reported last year that Microsoft had internally abandoned its Zune brand after the launch of the Zune HD and was working on a multi-year plan to phase out that brand going forward. This week, Microsoft has finally publicly hinted at what its plans are going forward: It will use Xbox as its sole entertainment brand. This makes sense as Xbox is Microsoft’s only successful consumer brand.

The hint comes in a blog post called Xbox: Now That’s Entertainment, in which Microsoft claims that 40 percent of overall Xbox usage is non-video-game related:

For the last 10 years at Microsoft, we’ve been turning up the heat on how we think about Xbox, and next week at E3 you will get a chance to see how far we’ve come.

Something interesting has happened in the last few years. While people are still playing a ton of video games, 40 percent of all Xbox activity now is non-game. Put another way, we’re seeing an average of 30 hours of video consumption per month per Xbox, a number that is growing fast. And people are expecting more – more options, more games, more videos, more entertainment.

Put simply, Xbox = entertainment and is core to our entertainment strategy.

The vision for Xbox is straightforward: All of the entertainment you want. With the people you care about. Made easy ... That is why you’ll see Xbox marketed more as an entertainment brand this year.

Next Monday at E3 in Los Angeles, the Xbox home entertainment pot will be boiling over during a 90-minute event that you can view live on Spike TV, or on the Microsoft News Center.

Looks like we’re about to learn a lot more about this branding. Will it simply be more of the same—Xbox as part of Microsoft’s overall consumer strategy—or something completely new—i.e. Xbox is Microsoft’s consumer strategy?

Based on what I’ve previously heard, I’m leaning towards the latter. (In fact, should Microsoft ever make a phone-less Windows Phone device, I fully expect it to be branded with Xbox, not Windows Phone or Zune.)

Stay tuned. Monday could be very interesting indeed.

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