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Microsoft is one of the most secretive companies in the world. So it’s news that Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, on Monday night released new data about entertainment usage on Xbox and how it’s “exploded”. He claims there are now more than 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world — or 3 times the number of original Xbox consoles sold. In 2012, the amount of TV and other entertainment offerings on Xbox almost tripled, Mehdi claims, now surpassing 100 custom voice-controlled TV and entertainment apps on Xbox LIVE. “Yes, we started with video games, but we have been on a journey to make Xbox the center of every household’s entertainment.” Here’s more, according to a Microsoft news release about Mehdi’s talk at the ‘D: Dive Into Media’ conference:

Living room entertainment is in its largest evolutionary period since the transitions of black-and-white to color, and from standard definition to high definition. The Xbox 360, alongside Microsoft’s entertainment industry partners, is at the forefront of that evolution as one of the only devices that brings all forms of entertainment together in one device, while making access to content easy and providing new ways to interact with existing programming.

Social has been an important part of Xbox from the beginning, and that’s true today more than ever. The Xbox LIVE community has grown to 46 million members, a 15% growth since last year.

2012 also marked the Xbox’s biggest year for entertainment and games usage. Users enjoyed more than 18 billion hours of entertainment in 2012, with entertainment app usage growing 57% year over year globally. Last year in the United States, Xbox LIVE Gold members averaged 87 hours per month on Xbox, an increase of 10% year over year.

“We believe that Xbox is being used by more people in the household, during more hours in the day and for more forms of entertainment,” Mehdi said. “People are using Xbox in the morning to work out with the Kinect Nike+ Fitness program, kids are watching cartoons, families are enjoying movies, and of course people are playing blockbuster games like ‘Halo 4.’”

According to Mehdi, Xbox has something in the living room no one else has – a large installed base of devices already in the home, connected to TVs, and over half of those are already linked together, delivering amazing personalized and social entertainment experiences via the Xbox LIVE network.

But it’s not just about new types of entertainment; it’s also about new business models and new engagement opportunities for advertisers. Mehdi called the launch of NUads – a new ad format that harnesses Kinect and natural user interface – an important moment for TV advertising. NUads deliver what is most scarce to advertisers today: consumer engagement. NUads enable natural interactivity using the simplicity of a spoken word or the wave of a hand. The first wave of NUads, which launched last fall with interactive polling, saw a record level of consumer engagement with 37 percent of people responding. With this model, passive TV advertising is transformed into engaging and actionable experiences.

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