Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, just sat down alongside Nancy Tellem, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft LA Studios, to kick off this year's rendition of D:Dive Into Media here in Dana Point, Calif. The first session of the evening is being piloted by AllThingsD's Peter Kafka, and naturally, the topic of conversation is Xbox. For starters, Mehdi affirmed that Microsoft is witnessing an unmistakable transition of the Xbox 360 "from a gaming console to an entertainment console." At present, the install base is up to 76 million (up from around 70 million at the close of September 2012), with US-based users using the console for some 87 hours per month.
In fact, he stated that 18 billion (yeah, with a "B") hours of entertainment have been consumed on Xbox, and while Netflix is obviously the driving force, it might not be that way for much longer. He was quick to claim that Sony's PlayStation 3 "isn't as good of an entertainment console" -- something he feels that "everybody knows" -- and insinuated that the next-generation Xbox will stick to "big and premium." In other words, don't expect Microsoft to kick out a $50 Roku-style content box. Mehdi wants to ensure that the future of Xbox enables voice control, interactivity, and "other stuff that's big and beautiful."