Microsoft aiming for hand-held player?
Reports say company working toward a portable video game player that will also play music, videos.

NEW YORK ( - Microsoft is weighing developing a portable device to play video games as well as music and video, according to a published report.

The San Jose Mercury News reports Microsoft (Research) might not have the game out for at least a year, maybe two, although The Wall Street Journal reports it could be out by the end of this year.

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It would further pit the company against not only video game makers such as Sony (Research) and Nintendo (Research) but also Apple Computer (Research), which has come to dominate the portable music player market with its popular iPod products.

The Mercury News reports that Microsoft hopes that by using its strength in video games as a core component of the new player, it will produce a device that Apple will not be able to even with new iPod products.

The Mercury News reports that several top executives from the Xbox 360 video game console are involved in developing the new portable device. The Mercury News reports the participation of these highly regarded Xbox veterans suggests that Microsoft is very serious about catching up with Sony's PlayStation Portable hand-held game player, Apple's iPod music and video players, and Nintendo's handheld GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS game players.

In January, Microsoft announced plans for its own music download service, Urge, designed to compete with Apple's iTunes service, although the service has not yet launched.

Nintendo has dominated the hand-held video game market, the Journal reports, while Sony leads the home video game console business. It has also tried to position its hand-held player, the PlayStation Portable, or PSP, as an all-purpose device that plays games, movies and music. It has sold 15 million units, according to the Journal.

Microsoft is a major player in the home console market, as it beat both Sony and Nintendo to market with its new generation video game player, the Xbox 360, last November. Sony announced March 15 that it would delay the release of its PlayStation 3 home video player.

Microsoft President Steve Ballmer said in an interview with Fortune that delay could let the Xbox 360 be the dominant player of this generation of home consoles.


For more on Ballmer's plans for the Xbox 360, click here.

For more on Microsoft's music download plans, click hereTop of page

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