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Making sense of Xbox exec Marc Whitten’s new job at Sonos

When speaking in regards to the aggressive panorama for Microsoft’s Xbox One, the dialog is almost at all times in regards to the console wars and the way it stacks up in opposition to the PlayStation 4.

MarcWhitten_soucemicosoft However yesterday’s departure of Xbox exec Marc Whitten to Sonos, the wi-fi audio firm, exhibits simply how narrow-minded that viewpoint is: Microsoft’s competitors for the Xbox One is far, a lot broader.

Whitten, who was the chief product officer at Xbox, will maintain the identical title at Sonos, the place he will probably be constructing an leisure hub for the lounge (or just about the identical factor he was doing at Xbox minus the video games).

A well-timed Sonos announcement right now gives a fantastic instance of how the 2 roles will probably be related.

Sonos_app_familyIn an enormous overhaul, the 12-year-old high-end speaker-maker offered a sneak peak of one thing it calls “common search,” a form of Google (or ought to we are saying Bing?) to your music assortment.

In a WSJ review today, Geoffrey A. Fowler says he’s at all times relied on iTunes to be his software program hub to handle his music, beaming music round the home utilizing Apple’s personal wi-fi system, known as AirPlay. However now with streaming music providers, like Spotify and Pandora, taking heart stage, he stated that’s opened up a possibility for Sonos to handle your varied playlists and providers utilizing a telephone. With common search, you may play a tune — out of your MP3 assortment or over two dozen streaming music providers, like Spotify, Beats Music and Pandora — in any room the place you have got a Sonos speaker put in.

The know-how is eerily much like what Whitten has been preaching about at Microsoft for the previous two-plus years.

smartglass2For instance, at E3 in 2012, he unveiled SmartGlass, which was a cellphone app that could possibly be used along with the Xbox as a keyboard to enter URLs on Web Explorer. It may then be used as a mouse to navigate across the TV display screen by dragging a finger round on the telephone. Xbox additionally has common search, which permits folks to look — or “Bing” — for music, TV exhibits and different content material throughout a number of apps. As an illustration, it helps you discover out which service — Netflix or Amazon Instantaneous Video — has “Trendy Household” free of charge.

In a tweet to Katie Boehret, the deputy evaluations editor and senior reviewer at Recode.web, Whitten revealed precisely what he was enthusiastic about speaking about: the house.

@kabster728 @Microsoft @Sonos @heyheyesj Katie — Nonetheless going to get your recommendation on the long run of the house. Only a completely different deal with now.

— Marc Whitten (@notwen) March 18, 2014

So, what does his departure imply to the Xbox?

Will Microsoft shift its technique to appease extra hardcore players and transfer away from its authentic objective of reaching a lot broader leisure targets?

Realistically, the reply is likely to be Microsoft doing the primary to be able to obtain the second.

However both method, with the departure of Whitten, Microsoft’s ranks of showmen — individuals who had been often trotted out to elucidate new options or do press interview — dwindles additional. A 12 months in the past, Don Mattrick, the previous president of Microsoft’s Interactive Leisure Enterprise, left the corporate to develop into CEO of Zynga.

Whitten was scheduled to look at this week’s Recreation Builders Convention for a “fireplace chat” focusing on impartial builders. He has since been changed on that panel by Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer. Xbox advertising boss Yusuf Mehdi and social media additionally incessantly talks to press, as does the Xbox’s face of social media Larry Hryb.

For now, Wall Road isn’t taking the information too laborious.

Microsoft buyers had been extra centered on the potential of a version of Office is coming for Apple’s iPad. The corporate’s inventory hit its highest degree since 2000, gaining $1.50, or 3.9 %, to $39.55 within the inventory’s largest one-day transfer in seven months.
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