Microsoft Xbox 360 ‘inspired’ by many of Apple Computer’s ideas

“Inspired by Apple’s audacious iPod campaign, Microsoft hopes Xbox 360’s minimalist industrial design and frosty white appearance will appeal to more than just hardcore gamers,” Che Chou reports for 1UP.com. “The move away from a traditional console look is, of course, a calculated move on the part of Microsoft’s designers. ‘We did lots of color studies,’ says J Allard, corporate VP of Xbox and one of the console’s most outspoken evangelists. ‘Part of it is that plasma screens are going really big with glass and frosted glass. They’re getting away from black as the framing, so as we move into the HD (high definition) era and think about the next 10 years of TV, there’s that. Part of it is consumer preference and value. They associate a lot of value with the lighter colors. Most people actually came back and said, ‘This reminds me of iPod.'”

“The heart of the system itself is made up of a custom-designed IBM PowerPC-based CPU [yes, like CPUs in Apple Macs – AIM was an alliance formed in 1991 between Apple Computer, IBM and Motorola to create a new computing standard based on the PowerPC architecture.] with 3 symmetrical cores crunching data at 3.2GHz each (for a total of 6 hardware threads) at any one time,” Che Chou reports. “Allard himself hopes to model Xbox 360’s growth and evolution on Apple’s iPod success — to him, flexibility and adaptation is the key. ‘Our initial thinking was there can only be one [Xbox 360 SKU], but you know, that just limits options,’ says Allard. ‘I don’t wanna think that way. If Steve Jobs thought that way, iPod sales would have [plateaued] because there’s a finite market for people that want 20GB white things that play music at a price point that’s above $200. And that’s all he could do with iPod.’ While Allard doesn’t think Microsoft will ever have a family of Xbox 360 core units like Apple does for the iPod, he suggests that a year or two down the line, we’ll begin to see divergence in different territories, so that the North America 360 suits the hardware needs of its respective market, and likewise with Europe and Asia.”

Che Chou reports, “Taking further minimalist cues from Apple’s iPod, the Xbox 360 opts to keep most of its functionality hidden. Even the Xbox 360 logo, which was brazenly stamped dead-center on its predecessor, is all but invisible on the new system, carved discreetly instead on the DVD disc tray and imprinted on the sides of the system.”

“During our initial visit to check out the Xbox 360, Allard took significant pains to emphasize the system’s power button, which has been dubbed internally as ‘the ring of light.’ Aside from functioning as a just another on/off switch, the Xbox 360 power button is surrounded by a ring of colored light, divided into four quadrants. Depending on the individual game and programming by individual developers, these lights can be used to communicate certain info. For example, let’s say you’re playing Halo 3 splitscreen with three other friends and one of them gets an invite over Xbox Live — his quadrant of the circle could light up red as an alert. How the ring of light will work in practice with actual games remains to be seen. Since the Xbox 360 can stand vertically or rest on its side horizontally, an internal gyroscope sensor will let the machine know its orientation and adjust its circle of light quadrants accordingly,” Che Chou reports.

Full article with much, much more here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft sounds pretty happy that most people in their focus groups said, “This reminds me of iPod.” Does anyone remember Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect (Windows was obviously constructed without a building permit) Bill Gates’ sarcasm, “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that,” regarding Apple’s iPod? We do.

So, Xbox uses a PowerPC CPU, huh? Created by Apple, IBM, and Motorola’s AIM alliance and just like Apple’s Macs have used for longer than a decade? What’s the matter, Intel/AMD x86 CPUs not good enough?

Now, about that ‘ring of light.’ Doesn’t Apple already own the patent, specifically U.S. Patent #20040156192? Hey, do you think that maybe Microsoft actually licensed the patent from Apple?

How’s that “Thought Thieves” short film contest going there, Bill?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
RUMOR: Sony and Apple working together on PlayStation 3 – May 13, 2005
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 demos running on Apple Macs – May 13, 2005
Microsoft holds ‘Thought Thieves’ short film competition focusing on intellectual property theft – May 12, 2005
Apple to release new computers and devices that dynamically change color? – December 28, 2002
Apple’s patented chameleon computer case could have many uses – August 16, 2004
Apple to release new computers and devices that dynamically change color? – December 28, 2002

64 Comments


  1. So, Xbox uses a PowerPC CPU, huh? What’s the matter, Intel/AMD x86 CPUs not good enough?”

    Apparently, a regular PowerPC CPU wasn’t good enough either. What’s your point? Microsoft wanted a custom design, which Intel refused to do….IBM more than willing. More of a design choice rather than the technological reason you’ve failed to portray.

    “”The heart of the system itself is made up of a custom-designed IBM PowerPC-based CPU [yes, like CPUs in Apple Macs] with 3 symmetrical cores crunching data at 3.2GHz each (for a total of 6 hardware threads) at any one time,””

    NO, not like the CPU’s in Apple Macs. I guess you’re so blinded with bias and zealotry it makes reading comprehension quite a challenge, doesn’t it?

    This isn’t the same CPU inside a Mac. You cannot take this chip and stick it in your Mac. It’s a CUSTOM designed PowerPC chip specifically taylored for Microsoft’s Xbox. 3 cores on a 90mm process under a different socket type, each core specialized, using less transistors then a current G5 core (which is why they’re able to ramp up the speed to 3.2Gh on a much less simpler cooling design than a current G5 tower).

    Or is that what’s bugging you? Microsoft got a 3Ghz PowerPC chip before Steve Jobs? LOL.

    What’s the

  2. and here was Apple boasting about how Tiger is a full year and a half earlier than Longhorn, Microsoft comes with a sucker punch to the mid-section and not only comes out with a PowerPC chip that’s fast, but it’s triple-core and exceeds the 3GHz barrier. Way earlier than Apple announced!

    Yikes.

  3. Yea, this is a rip of Apple ideas. yawn. What’s new?

    The ‘softies have made a fortune by copying Apple and reseller a low end distilled version of the concepts to the masses. Anyone older than 15 should know from experience (or just paying attention) that Apple is essentially M$ R&D arm – nuff said.

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  4. “and here was Apple boasting about how Tiger is a full year and a half earlier than Longhorn, Microsoft comes with a sucker punch to the mid-section and not only comes out with a PowerPC chip that’s fast, but it’s triple-core and exceeds the 3GHz barrier. Way earlier than Apple announced!”

    Um, except Apple isn’t in the console market, so how does this affect them? Microsoft’s big thing is supposed to be operating systems, that’s why Apple brags about dominating them with OS X Tiger. At this point the XBox is competing with whatever Sony has planned for the PS3, not with whatever high end G5 Apple has planned next.

  5. I agree with Sammy. MDN needs to put their own, apple biggoted spin on everything that Microsoft does. These PPC chips are not at all alike, and IBM had been using PPCs for years in their servers too, so it’s not just an Apple technology. Actually, it’s not at all an Apple technology, but an IBM technology that Apple buys and rebrands as a cool name “G5”. They didn’t even invent the click wheel in the iPod, but licensed it from another company! I just wish Apple would pack it in when it comes to being a computer manufacturer and focus on killer software and music.

    In related news:
    “Mercedes has released a new C-class today that uses an engine to propel it.”

    MDN take: “yeah, but BMW has been using engines too. Mercedes is just following again. Take that Wintel. Drink the Apple Kool-Aid, blah”

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