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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Sony Corporation (ADR) (SNE): Xbox One’s the Loneliest Number

Folks betting on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) calling its new gaming console the Xbox 720 were only off by 719 digits.

Then again, given the solitary nature of the platform’s new bar-raising features, maybe it’s appropriate that Microsoft went with Xbox One as the new name.

As much as Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) would love to position its new system as the ultimate set-top box to anchor a home theater experience, it’s one that will largely be enjoyed by individuals on their own. After all, if you’re watching an NFL game with a group of friends, do you really want one person shrinking the size of the screen to pull up his fantasy football stats? Do you want someone using hand gestures or barking out commands to launch Internet Explorer to pull up a recipe while you’re all watching a cooking show?

The personalized content recommendations are — by definition — personalized.

Multiplayer games aside, the Xbox One will be more of a device for the bedroom TV than the communal living room TV.

That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s probably the way that most of the tens of millions of Xbox Live subscribers currently engage with their consoles. The social nature of Xbox Live users is the connectivity that binds every lone gamer so they can engage in concert. The Xbox is merely a gaming-oriented PC in that way. It just happens rely on a TV as a monitor more often than not.

Clearly Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has done just fine with its army of Web-tethered individuals. Microsoft’s presentation also makes it clear that it will once again be the one to beat this generation. Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) — whose upcoming PlayStation 4 will butt heads with Microsoft’s new toy later this year — won’t catch up. Nintendo (OTCBB:NTDOY) — whose interactive, family-oriented games would seem to make it a better heir for the living room throne — didn’t make much of a dent with the Wii U last November when it entered the holiday shopping season uncontested. It will be toast this time around.

The market just may not have room for three major consoles this cycle. There was plenty of room for three players last time around. Nintendo’s family-friendly Wii hit the market at a substantially lower price point than the competition. Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)’s PS3 had the advantage of Blu-ray playback. Someone could justify a Wii purchase to get the family gaming together or a PS3 to serve up high-def movies.