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Apple GameCenter Looks To Cut Off Microsoft's XBox Live at the Knees

ALSO: Apple Fall Keynote: Lack of Surprises Creates an Opening for Google and Microsoft.

It's official: Apple (APPL) considers the upcoming Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Mobile 7 a threat. Look no further than today's Apple announcement of Game Center, an interactive online community hosted by Apple itself. The Game Center blueprint is XBox Live -- and Apple, by releasing it next week, hopes to create mobile XBox Live before Microsoft itself.

Apple's inspiration from Microsoft's XBox Live and, to a lesser extent, Sony's (SNE) PlayStation Network is obvious from Steve Jobs' slideshow this morning:

  • Multi-player games
  • Challenge friends
  • Auto matching
  • Compare scores
  • Discover new games
Third-party companies like OpenFeint have been trying to bring mobile gamers into one unified community, but their efforts will now feel redundant -- the equivalent of Twitter deciding to create its own mobile client.

The big addition here, however, is achievements, which are points given when a gamer reaches a certain goal, like saving the princess on the hardest difficulty level or beating the game without losing a life. Microsoft gamers have literally spent years building up their total achievements score, which is why Microsoft integrating the XBox Live point system onto Windows Mobile 7 games is so crucial.

The problem is that Windows Mobile 7 won't be available until later this year, and gamers will have months to rack up points after they get their hands on Apple's GameCenter by next weekend.

Photo courtesy of Mike Baird // CC 2.0