During its annual financial analysts' meeting today in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft announced that it plans to spend an unprecedented US$500 million on marketing for the launch of its Xbox console in fall 2001. The Xbox will be supported by this extensive launch campaign through the first 18 months of the console's life. According to company officials, this will mark the largest product launch in company history.
"You can't do this halfhearted. It's a long-term investment and one we take very seriously," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president of Microsoft's Games Division. "Our hardware design is complete. We are now building the form factors, the forms to actually put components in. We are now at the stage where we're making serious progress in bringing Xbox to life. Xbox really is designed to penetrate [the console] marketplace. It's also designed to bring us another anchor tenant in the home."
Microsoft discussed its need to compete against rival next-generation platforms such as the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo "Dolphin," and Sony PlayStation 2. The company particularly addressed the PlayStation 2, claiming that the Xbox will deliver better graphics and sound. The company has distributed over 200 development kits to third-party software developers and expects to have about 30 games ready at or around the console's launch.
As announced previously, the Xbox includes an Intel processor, Nvidia graphics chip, Thomson DVD, and Internet support.