New spin-off company strives to develop a rival for Microsoft's Xbox 360
BEIJING - Chinese PC maker Lenovo will go head-to-head with the big boys in the video game console market, looking to snatch away market share from the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.
On Aug 9, a team of some 40 Lenovo software engineers was spun off from the Lenovo Group to develop and market the "Ebox", a platform similar to Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360.
The Kinect enables users to control and interact with the device without the need for a game controller.
The device leverages a user interface and reads user gestures with a webcam.
The spin-off firm, called Beijing eedoo Technology Ltd, was formed to rival well established brands including Microsoft's Xbox, Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation.
Lenovo Group, Legend Holdings and Legend Capital co-invested in the newly launched company. Officials refused to disclose investment figures.
"We are the world's second company to produce a controller-free game console, behind only Microsoft," said Jack Luo, a former department chief with Lenovo, and now president of Beijing eedoo Technology.
Ebox uses a camera to track player movement, but unlike Nintendo's Wii or Sony's Move system, Ebox can plot movements and translate them into onscreen action without the need for a controller.
Kinect is expected to go on sale in North America this November, with a base price of $149.99 per unit. Ebox will also make its debut this November, but may not hit the market until the first quarter of 2011.
The price for the Ebox has yet to be hammered out. Luo said the price is expected to be higher than Nintendo's Wii, but it "may be slightly lower than Microsoft's Xbox, which retails for $299.99".
Beijing eedoo Technology's target customers for the Ebox are mainly occasional rather than hardcore players.
"Our product is designed for family entertainment. Ebox may not have exquisite game graphics, or extensive violence, but it can inspire family members to get off the couch and get some exercise," Luo said.
The company estimates up to 120 million urban families in China are potential buyers of the Ebox.
If Beijing eedoo charges 3,000 yuan ($441.17) for every unit, more than 19 million Chinese families can afford one, according to a market survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group.