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Microsoft Corp. may release a slimmer version of its Xbox 360 game console in 2010 to attract new customers to the platform, many analysts said. Besides introduction of slimmer version, Microsoft should also make its gaming platform more affordable in order to retain competitive advantage compared to Sony PlayStation 3.

“I think it is a question of when not if.  However, the when part is a big uncertainty...rumors have been going on for a long time.  I think people were asking me the same question last year at this time.  As cost efficiencies allow smaller and more reliable is always a good thing. However, you also have something like Project Natal which could also tie in with hardware redesigns. In our DFC forecasts we anticipated a major redesign in 2010, so I guess that was our bet,” said David Cole, an analyst with DFC Intelligence, in an interview with IndustryGamers web-site.

It is noteworthy that Microsoft did not update external design of its original Xbox console earlier this decade, meanwhile, Sony Computer Entertainment is known for redesigning of its PlayStation game systems.

"Yes, I think they will release a new look for the hardware in conjunction with the motion sensor next year,” Ben Schachter, an analyst from Broadpoint AmTech.

Microsoft Xbox 360 is smaller compared to its main rival – PlayStation 3 – but it is considerably larger than Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2 slim. The new design of the slimmer PS3 may indeed attract more attention from customers, who will start buying more of them compared to the PlayStation. Still, there are analysts who do not believe in X360 slim and claim that Microsoft Natal motion-sensing game controller is the next big thing for the Xbox 360.

“I could see a model refresh with the Elite version replacing the Pro version, and maybe a price cut down to $249 to stay below the PS3 price, but don't really see a Slim version. I think Natal is the next big thing from Microsoft, and until then it will be mostly price cuts and small tweaks to the different models (bigger hard drive, various games bundled in, etc). I expect a Natal bundle to be launched with a huge marketing blitz in 2H 2010,” said Todd Greenwald of Signal Hill.

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox, Natal

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