The next generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles could be coming to us in 2013, according to Sterne Agee industry analyst Arvind Bhatia. ”Based on various conversations we had at the conference, we believe it is all but a given that either Microsoft or Sony or both will launch their new consoles next year,” he said in a note sent to investors recently. Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian echoed very similar thoughts in a separate note.

Meanwhile, the head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer revealed that the company’s incentives are inclined towards prolonging the life of the Xbox 360 for as long as possible (that might have been obvious to all of us, though). Good examples that support this would be the newly announced SmartGlass, as well as the Nike partnership. ”Microsoft entered this space with the original Xbox 11 years ago, and we’re committed for the long-term,” Spencer told GameSpot during an E3 interview this week. “The nice thing about the Xbox 360 right now is–if you look–we’re the number one console globally. We’re able to bring in new content and still support the best of the core games.”

“It’s a platform that has really reached scale; this is the time when you really see the great content showing up. The future in a lot of ways is always tomorrow: [things like] the SmartGlass technology and Windows 8 [show that] things are going to constantly evolve. The world where everything gets centered around one console and when that comes out–we kind of have to evolve away from just thinking about that, [especially] with the service-based nature of games today. Right now the Xbox 360 is really healthy and it’s doing incredibly well. I think the 360 has a lot more than two years [left]. It has legs for a long time.”

Now do take note that Spencer’s comments don’t rule out the possibility of a new console coming from Microsoft in 2013, it just means that they want people to keep buying the 360 well after they have launched a new console, assuming that they plan to do that. This would be a change of pace from what happened previously with the original Xbox, when it seemingly disappeared from retail existence upon the launch of the Xbox 360. There are a lot of conflicting ideas here, but I don’t see why Microsoft has any real incentive to release new and improved hardware. Sony might, but they have their own big issues to deal with currently, and the release of the next Sony console wouldn’t give them a free pass to stop supporting the PS3. At least not right away, due to the lack of backwards compatibility that the next Sony platform is said to have.

Source: GameSpot