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Media-hungry Microsoft adds Slingbox entrepreneur to Xbox team

Blake Kikorian

We’re at a peculiar point in the current video game console cycle. It’s been nearly seven years since the debut of the Xbox 360, and while common sense dictates that Microsoft must be working on the next version of its flagship console, we don’t really know anything solid about it. Further, both Microsoft and its biggest competitor, Sony, are ramping up attempts to assemble teams to manage their next consoles, which brings us to today’s news that Blake Kikorian has been assigned to serve as corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Xbox entertainment division.

Previously, Kikorian served on the board of directors at Amazon. He also founded Sling Media, the company that created the Slingbox media streaming device, before selling the firm to EchoStar Communications in 2007. Most recently Kikorian worked as the head of id8 Group R2 Studios, a company that specialized in creating application for smartphones. Microsoft recently acquired the firm, in what was then presumed to be an attempt to add its expertise to Microsoft’s expanded stable of developers. As it turns out, the company also had its eye on Kikorian.

We are thrilled to have Blake join the Xbox team,” writes Marc Whitten, chief product officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. “He’s a proven innovator and well-respected leader in both the media and technology industries, having created simple, elegant products that have transformed the way people engage with and consume content. We look forward to his contribution to our team as Xbox continues to evolve and transform the games and entertainment landscape.”

While there’s currently no specific word on what Kikorian is working on at Microsoft, he seems diplomatically pleased with his new role. “I  am excited to join Microsoft and be a part of the Xbox team. As a 10-year Xbox LIVE subscriber, I have seen firsthand how Xbox has delighted us by reinventing how consumers experience games and entertainment,” Krikorian writes. “I look forward to helping the team define the future of entertainment and contribute to the next decade of continued innovation.”

Despite that lack of specifics however, it’s pretty easy to see why Microsoft might value Kikorian so highly. The company has long been adding new, innovative media applications and services to the Xbox 360, and this trend is expected to continue on into whatever console Microsoft issues next. Kikorian, as the man behind the Slingbox, has a huge amount of experience in bringing various media formats to the general public in an attractive, functional package, and is thus a pretty solid complement to Microsoft’s established media team. In truth, for all we know Microsoft could opt to put Kikorian to work testing games, but we feel that his past speaks for itself. Expect the next Xbox to continue Microsoft’s ongoing effort to kill off the cable box.

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