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Essay by   •  February 9, 2011  •  Case Study  •  5,134 Words (21 Pages)  •  1,755 Views

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Introduction

According to David Silverstein from Inc.com, The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs, convergence is the key to remaining successful in today's competitive business environment. In his column he comments saying; we have already suffered through years of "synergy," followed by "globalization," and the "wired world." Well, today, it is "convergence." We read of "digital convergence," "wireless convergence," and the legendary inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is even talking about the convergence of man and technology with his prediction that, "by 2045, strictly biological humans won't be able to keep up."

Convergence is defined as the occurrence of two or more things coming together (dictionary.com, 1). The Xbox 360 is a good example of convergence. The Xbox 360 is a video game console produced by Microsoft, developed in cooperation with IBM, ATI, and SIS. Microsoft before always relied upon their line of software for sales, but going into the game console industry would mix up their product line and hopefully make them more remembered then just for software (Wikipedia.com Xbox 1).

In its first year on the market, the system launched in 36 countries, more countries than any console has launched in a single year. The Xbox 360 is the successor to the Xbox, and competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of gaming systems Microsoft has run into some problems with the Xbox 360, they have lost over four billion dollars with this product because of their marketing strategy and has a problem attracting to certain audiences. Even with losing four billion dollars, they have sold 13.4 million consoles. The Consoles are available in three versions: the Elite, the Premium, and the Arcade (Wikipedia.com Xbox 360, 1).

The Xbox 360 uses the technologies: networking, gaming, pc capabilities and CD/DVD. We will be focusing on the networking, gaming and pc capabilities and less on the CD/DVD because that is where most of the updates on the Xbox 360 are taking place. For example, Microsoft has broadened out into Real Time IPTV with Xbox LIVE, HDTV, on-line game play, chatting, downloading new games, music and videos.

History

Xbox's roots go all the way back to 1975 when the Microsoft Corporation was originally launched by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Microsoft specialized in software and now stands as one of the most successful companies in the world by developing Windows and other office tools that are intended for personal and business use. Like most dominate companies, Microsoft was not satisfied with only controlling the PC market but wanted to get involved with the markets that interacted with the PC, one of these was the video-game industry (Buckman 2001). The Sony PlayStation which had experienced great success in the late 1990s troubled Microsoft due to the quickly growing video-game market which was cutting in on the PC market. This is where Microsoft received most of its motivation to create a gaming console of their own which was intended to compete with Sony Playstation2 and Nintendo Game cube. Another reason why this venture made good business sense is that it gave Microsoft another product that was not just software. This would help to mix up an all too similar product line and make Microsoft more than just a software company.

For the design of the system, Bill Gates assembled an "in-house" team at Microsoft which included Seamus Blackley, who is an agent of the Creative Artist Agency. Blackley was a well respected member of the gaming industry and had helped develop projects like Flight Unlimited, Jurassic Park, Trespasser which was a computer game designed for Microsoft Windows. These two projects, especially Jurassic Park involved large amounts of complex physics which Blackley was known for. Blackley originally came to Microsoft to design DirectX, which is a series of application programming interfaces running on Microsoft platforms for performing jobs related to multimedia, especially video and game programming (Wikipedia 2007). DirectX has numerous series including Direct3-D, Sound, Play, Draw and Music. When it came time to decide what type of software was going to be applied to the new game console Blackleys answer was DirectX. The version that was to be used on the console was closest to the DirectX 8.1 version and could not be updated like other features on the console could. The original name for the console was "DirectX-box" due to the large role that DirectX played in the designing of the system but was later changed by the marketing department to the shortened X-Box.

Once the design of the system was becoming more apparent the task responsibilities were broken down into three parts. First there was the software aspect which was on the shoulders of James Allard. Allard overlooked all system development, hardware and engineering. Ed Fries was the head of all game development on the Microsoft Xbox platform. Fries was best known for his acquisition of developers Bungie Studios, Rare and Ensemble Studios which helped to develop some of Xbox's most popular games. The last section was the marketing and sales which Mitch Koch ran. All three men were under the supervision of Robert Bach, who was the top executive in the Xbox console (Buckman 2001).

The hardware of the Xbox is what made it stand out from its competition. It was the first gaming console to have a hard drive disk installed which allowed for downloading at a fast speed and game storage. This was an innovative design compared to the PlayStation which required memory cards for game saving and did not allow game downloading. Although games do save within the hard drives in Xbox, if a gamer wants to use their memory or saved files on another console they can use an eight megabyte memory card that attaches to the controllers. Using this memory card you can transfer data from one hard drive to another. Xbox software runs off a watered down version of Windows 2000. Its application programming interfaces is applied by using DirectX. This internal design helps to make Xbox superior because it allows the systems to interact with new gaming updates and multimedia tasks such as music and videos. This design also prevents Xbox from performing some activity that is not approved by Microsoft, mainly modifying (www.Microsoft.com 2002).

Modifying consists of tampering with devices hardware so that the device can perform jobs and tasks that it was not intended to do. Mainly the concern with modifying in relation to Xbox was that if a modding chip were to be installed in a system games could be illegally downloaded into the system. Many changes and upgrades had

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