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7/22/2010
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Xbox Kinect Could Be Microsoft's iPad

Holiday sales expected to be strong for gaming industry's first hands-free motion control system.

Microsoft could sell as many as three million Xbox Kinect units in the run up to the 2010 holidays, according to a market watcher.




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"We believe that Kinect units are already in production and should be available in adequate quantities for the November launch. We continue to expect that roughly three million units of Kinect will be sold worldwide in 4Q," wrote Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian, in a research note to clients this week.

If Sebastian's estimate is correct, that would put Kinect, a hands-free motion control system that lets Xbox 360 players physically interact with on-screen games, on par with the iPad as one of the tech market's hottest selling new hardware platforms. Apple has sold 3.27 million iPads since introducing the tablet-style PC on April 3rd, the company said Tuesday.

Microsoft's hardware business could use a lift. It's had little success keeping up with Apple's buzzworthy launches in key markets like entertainment and mobile communications in recent years. The Zune has failed to dent the iPod's lion's share of the MP3 market, and earlier this month Microsoft pulled its poor selling KIN phones from stores even as iPhone 4 debuted to record sales.

Kinect could help Microsoft recapture some attention when it debuts Nov. 4. The company plans to introduce an entertainment bundle that includes the Kinect sensor bar attached to a new, slimmed down 4GB Xbox 360 console. The package also features Kinect Adventures, an exploration game designed to take full advantage of the Kinect technology. The bundle is priced at $299.

Microsoft also said it plans to make the Kinect sensor bar available as an add-on for existing Xbox 360 consoles, at a price of $149, including Kinect Adventures. The Kinect bar features a camera, audio sensors, and motion-sensing technology that tracks 48 points of movement on the human body. That means players can control on-screen action simply through physical gestures and verbal commands. The sensor bar is designed to plug directly into the Xbox 360 console.

The new 4GB Xbox 360 can also be bought separately for $199, starting August 3rd.

The roster of upcoming Kinect-compatible titles includes a Star Wars game from LucasArts that's due out in 2011, as well as unspecified titles from Disney. More immediately, Microsoft and its partners will ship a number of activity games in November that take advantage of Kinect's ability to mimic human body movements.

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