Microsoft Pushes Xbox Goals with R2 Acquisition, (Possible) Countdown to 720

Microsoft’s plan of expanding beyond the realm of personal computers relies heavily on the Xbox 360, once an old-fashioned gaming console that is now poised to become a full-blown home entertainment system. It just needs few nudges in the right direction.

Microsoft seems to have made all the right decisions so far. The Xbox LIVE service acts as a cloud-enabled storefront that provides multiple content streaming options, as well as a rich catalog of video game titles, but this functionality is mostly bolted on.  If Microsoft wants the Xbox to become a genuine media hub it will would have to incorporate these capabilities from the ground up – which is probably exactly what it’s doing with the Xbox 720.

The concept behind 720 has suddenly been pushed into the spotlight because Microsoft’s Larry Hryb just put up a timer, stirring up plenty of speculation in the blogosphere, especially among those who believe it’s a countdown to the launch of Microsoft’s next generation console. If these rumors prove true, the Xbox 720 will hit stored in 158 days.

This timing doesn’t add up with predictions from previous years that projected the console would hit stores in time for the holiday season. But it does make some sense in the context of Microsoft’s latest acquisition: id8 Group R2 Studios.

R2 Studios is the latest venture of Slingbox creator Blake Krikorian. It stayed mostly off the radar since Krikorian founded it in 2011, but it’s notable for holding several patents relating to electronic interfaces – means to connect different devices such as phones and smart meters. Considering Microsoft’s dominance in the PC space and the fact that Windows powers many other connected devices, it’s not difficult to see why the software maker would want to get its hands on this technology ahead of the supposed launch of its new platform.