Years ago, had you asked consumers to define the Xbox, they might have called it a game console used to play Halo. Not anymore: Microsoft’s hot hardware has evolved into an entertainment hub, a device not simply for multiplayer games but for TV, movies, music, and apps.
As many obervers have noted, with the Xbox Microsoft dove head first into the war for the living room–even out-gunning Apple and Google. But that understanding of Microsoft’s strategy overlooks the other, arguably more important half of the battle: Microsoft’s future on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. And as Microsoft unveiled Monday at E3, the Xbox is core to its success in these spaces–not just in the services it provides but the branding it boasts.