Xbox TV will be home for Christmas

 18 Sep 2011 - By Omar Yesid Mariño+

Xbox TV, a service that apparently is intended to be a strong competitor of Google TV and Apple TV, will be launched at the end of this year for users of the grey box.  It will include a streaming feature with the regular programs of your TV and, besides, picked out (on-demand) videos for your entertainment (hmmm… it looks like Netflix has another competitor, too). The service will use Bing and Kinect voice commands to facilitate searching for content.

Christmas: TV

There is a list of selected countries where this service will be first launched but, at this time, we don’t know that yet.

Advantages of Xbox TV

Microsoft will try to succeed where other big companies -like Google, Apple and Sony- tried and failed (well, at least temporarily). The software giant wants to change the way people watch TV.

Last Wednesday, during a meeting with Microsoft’s financial analysts carried out in Anaheim-California (USA), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) showed a preview of the new Xbox TV platform. It was very generic.

The preview didn’t reveal many important details like, for example, the involved  partnerships to provide content, the price of the service, or movies and series that would be available initially. However, Ballmer pointed out that Microsoft will be working with “dozens or hundreds of additional video-content suppliers” to increase the available content in the Xbox platform.

As for TV programs, Ballmer said that Xbox TV will include “news, sports, and your favorite channels” as the attainable options.

In addition, the Microsoft CEO offered glimpses about how the system would operate. Apparently, the system will work in a similar manner like other partnerships Microsoft has with foreign companies including Sky TV in England, Canal Plus in France and FoxTel in Australia. Those partnerships allow the Xbox users to watch a limited group of channels through their consoles without needing to install another additional hardware like cables, satellite antennas, or decoders.

Microsoft believes the main difference between the Xbox (as a TV platform) and the bunch of unsuccessful competitors in this segment is the capability to detect voice and motion. With Kinect, users will be able to browse through different contents by using voice commands. As said before, the “interface” to make searches is the famous Bing search engine.

“Having all of that content is right on, it’s fantastic, but it brings a new challenge with it. Certainly we all know the frustrations of using guides and menus and controllers, and we think a better way to do all of this is simply to bring Bing and voice to Xbox. You say it, Xbox finds it”, said Ballmer.

During the demonstration, a Microsoft employee said the following words: “Xbox, Bing The Office“. Immediately after that, the Xbox screen showed all the available seasons of that NBC TV series to be chosen on demand. In theory, searches with the voice tool would allow to browse into a specific season and then the user would select a specific episode, but guess what? The demo failed! “It’s a good thing that’s shipping for Christmas,” Ballmer joked after this embarrassing moment.

Microsoft also hopes to use its community of about 35 million Xbox Live users to create a social experience around TV programs and movies. “The vision is kind of simple. You should have any entertainment you want with all the people you care about, really simply and on any screen”, the Microsoft CEO said.

The new Xbox TV would have another advantage over competitors: The Microsoft video games console is the best selling console. “Microsoft has a very large install base. This is not about going out and buying a new piece of hardware, it’s about adding capability to device that already exists in living rooms”, explained Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner (an information technology research and advisory firm).

Ok, we have to ask, is it probable that Xbox TV becomes successful in a segment where Apple TV, Google TV, and other companies have failed? We remember when Microsoft launched its Windows Media Center in 2008, and the results have not been very impressive so far. In any case, does this have the potential to be an important money-maker for Microsoft instead of being just an additional thing of the consoles that maybe many users don’t want to use? Some people  think  that this service is only a supplementary, non-essential thing that makes difficult to create a real business model around it. We’ll see.

Xbox TV

Why would you use the console to watch TV when there is a TV in your living room  or your bedroom? Well, according to Microsoft, the answer is: Because, when you use your regular TV, you can’t search content through your voice or browse content using body motion. Besides, the Xbox TV will have a very user-friendly interface.

Disclaimer - Category: TV