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Growth for Microsoft across GCC thanks to strong Kinections

The hand gestures and body movements of computer gamers have helped boost Microsoft's performance across the GCC, Samer Abu Latif, the regional manager of Microsoft Gulf, said.

The hand gestures and body movements of computer gamers have helped to boost Microsoft's performance across the GCC.

The games console sector has been the fastest-growing for the American company, which launched Kinect last year, a gaming device that uses gesture recognition.

"The fastest growth has been from gaming, mainly because of Kinect. It is growing faster than what we have seen before because of the increase in internet penetration and bandwidth availability," said Samer Abu Latif, the regional manager for Microsoft in the Arabian Gulf.

According to Ashish Panjab, the chief operating officer of the electronics retailer Jacky's, Microsoft's Kinect has been a "major innovation in the gaming industry. It got a new audience: the casual gamer".

According to data from Microsoft, the gaming industry in emerging markets grew 62 per cent over the past five years, but the Middle East recorded a 167 per cent growth over the same period.

Sales of consoles and other hardware grew by 62 per cent in the past two years.

A young population and better internet connectivity have driven this growth, said Mr Abu Latif.

"Kinect has seen an unbelievable success. What is more exciting is that developers and customers are talking about leveraging these technologies outside of gaming and entertainment, like into education to develop 'edutainment' services," he added.

The next step for Microsoft is integrating gaming with the mobile platform and using social media to target a wider audience.

The high per capita spending on technology makes the GCC market one of the most attractive to developers and retailers. Sony is thought to have the lion's share of the gaming market at 50 per cent with its PlayStation consoles, with Microsoft taking about 35 per cent and Nintendo at about 15 per cent.

"Gaming has become one of the metrics by which users in the Middle East interact with the internet and the rest of the world," said Prashant Gulati, the chief executive of Optimistix Ventures. "There is a massive amount of interest. Home-grown developers are coming and building games from scratch for Arabia."

According to research from Arab Advisors, Middle East users account for almost 40 per cent of the world's 1.6 billion internet gamers. The total number of users of Arabic games on Facebook averaged 2.89 million per month last year.

"The gaming sector is relevant and one of the most exciting and fastest growing is the casual gaming sector," said Ashwin Kandoi, the director of Winjit Technologies, which develops applications for smartphones and tablets.

thamid@thenational.ae

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