The technology is there to make a portable Xbox 360 (Sony's PS Vita is practically a portable PS3 and the Nintendo 3DS a portable Wii), so why has Microsoft still not challenged Nintendo and Sony in the portable arena? Microsoft's answer: the portable market is hard to crack.
Well, Microsoft could make a portable Xbox 360, but it doesn't want to because apparently "any dedicated portable device like a camera, or a portable gaming device like the 3DS has a tough time" says COO and CFO Dennis Durkin of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. Who said a portable Xbox would be a dedicated gaming device? The PSP and DSi, 3DS and PS Vita aren't, why would we expect a media rich platform like the Xbox to be a single trick pony?
While, connectivity was all the rage at last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in L.A., where Sony heavily pushed its PS Vita to PS3 connection and Nintendo was showing off it's Wii U tablet controller/TV beaming prowess, we can't help but feel a portable Xbox 360 with Xbox Live services would be a much better companion than carrying a Windows Phone 7 smartphone (which is what Microsoft is pushing for).
We understand that there are financial hurdles to tackle, such as selling each unit at a loss (Sony expects to lose money on every PS Vita for the first three years) and deciding what format to use for game distribution (physical media vs. digital downloads), but that's the exact same thing Microsoft took up when it entered the console race back in 2001 with the original Xbox and look at where they are today — they have a legion of fanatics who love Halo and Gears of Wars and would wait days in line for a portable Xbox 360 as if it were some new iGadget.
From a sales perspective, the Xbox 360, second to the Wii for this generation has been a huge success. Microsoft's sold about 54 million units sold worldwide since launch and is killing it with tons of Kinect sales that will soon be backed by cool games that make use of voice and motion control like Kinect Star Wars, Mass Effect 3 and Forza 4. In terms of "HD" consoles, the Xbox 360 is the leader with its only competitor (for now) four million units away and it's Xbox Live service is the most robust one yet (PSN anyone?)
When the Zune was essentially left to die (unofficially), we expected it to rise up from its early death to become the portable Xbox we always wanted, but it seems Microsoft's not interested. Maybe when the PS Vita sells like hotcakes at its low $250 showing off its dual-analogs, touchscreen/rear touchpad, augmented reality, the Xbox team will get reconsider. But for now, if you're looking to take Master Chief or Marcus Fenix with you on the go, forget about it - it's not happening, which is a real shame.