Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV?

Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV?

Summary: According to Microsoft, this new dashboard is where 'a new era in entertainment begins.'

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Microsoft is planning to roll out a new dashboard update for its Xbox 360 console tomorrow that will see custom apps from a range of TV and entertainment content providers being made available. Is Microsoft looking to transform the Xbox from a games console to a TV connected PC?

According to Microsoft, this new dashboard is where 'a new era in entertainment begins.' Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, had this to say:

"A new era in entertainment begins where all your entertainment is together in one place - your games, movies, TV shows, music and sports. With this update, Xbox 360 system owners will experience Kinect voice control integrated with Bing search, making your TV and entertainment experiences more social and personal than ever."

Google launched Google TV earlier this year, and that venture failed. Apple's had AppleTV for a few years now but there doesn't seem to be much mainstream consumer interest in the device. Microsoft's been clever and taken a different approach - it sold people a games console and it's now transforming it into something that resembles a PC.

At the core of this update is the ability to for the console to run custom apps. At present these custom apps are to pipe additional media content to the Xbox, but where these apps lead, more will follow. Blogger Long Zheng peers into his crystal ball and sees where this might be going:

Who’s to say there can’t be a Flickr app for browsing gorgeous photos, educational apps for kids, communication apps like Skype and even Kinect-enabled apps like those shown in “The Kinect Effect” ad.

I see no reason why that couldn't happen.

Some 56 million Xbox 360 units have been shipped (it's hard to tell how many are dead), and some 35 million are connected to the internet, so it's only logical that Microsoft leverage this platform with apps. The hardware ecosystem is already there and it's would be a no-brainer for developers to jump on board and start creating custom apps for the platform - apps that will take the Xbox 360 games console and transform it into a TV connected PC. All the elements are there for a successful app ecosystem - a payment system, internet connectivity, large user base and existing developer interest - all Microsoft needs to do is to start leveraging.

As much as this announcement excites me, it also depresses me. No matter how cool the Xbox 360 is, it's still old technology. Six-year-old technology. It's so old that now that it's not just throttling gaming experience on the console, it's holding back gaming on the PC. It's not likely that we'll see a new Xbox until 2014.

So yes, apps on the Xbox is a great idea, but I just wish that it was on new hardware rather than six-year-old hardware.

[poll id="719"]

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Topics: Hardware, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mobility

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30 comments
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  • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

    if we could just keep playing halo and pull up a windows 8 side snap screen thing meantime to order some food, catch up on email and conduct business while continuing the multiplayer game, well now that would be an achievement.
    peterpulmonary
    • Waving hands causes 'gorilla arm' syndrome, and talking to TV makes you ...

      @peterpulmonary: ... tired much sooner than you would think looking at cool Kinect advertisement.

      So while XBox 360 continues to be highly successful device (on par with Sony's PS3 in terms of quantity sold), TV is not going to be 'appified' by it -- to tiresome to use both hands and voice for something more lasting than a game for half hour a day. People watch TV for hours daily.
      dderss
      • Avoid gorilla arms with Apple's solution

        @dderss
        Instead of waving your hands about holding nothing, it is far better to wave your hands about while holding a 1.3lb device.

        As for people being too tired to use voice control, I guess that is why iPhone 4S is selling so poorly.

        Oh wait.

        Finally, did you even bother to read up about the WP7 integration so that you can control your Xbox with your phone? And yes, I'm fully aware that you can do this with Apple's solution only when Apple does it, you cheer but when MS does it, gorilla arms suddenly appear.

        dderss, you demonstrate that you know little about Apple products and even less about competing products. Don't get me wrong, your ignorance is highly entertaining but I do feel kind of bad for you.
        toddybottom
      • Of course, better, since in Apple's way you do not wave anything, the ...

        @toddybottom: ... device lays on you laps and the hands go down to manipulate it with multi-touch gestures.<br><br>And talking to iPhone 4S' AI assistant few times a day is nothing like trying to browse TV "for something different", the more the device itself issues a lot of noise at the same time.<br><br>toddybottom, you demonstrate that you know little about Microsoft products and even less about competing products. Don't get me wrong, your ignorance is highly entertaining but I do feel kind of bad for you for being such little cutie troll.
        dderss
  • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

    If it handles the task at hand, six year old technology is just fine. I would also think that the next rumored update to Kinect will add another dimension to managing a consumer's TV viewing time.

    Will Microsoft beat Apple (and Google) to the market with a viable full feature home TV ecosystem? It could be argued that with Apple TV - version two - and an iPad or other iOS device, that Apple has already breached that threshold. As for Google TV, just ask Logitech how that experience worked out for them.

    But, Microsoft has a shot at this. If Apple delivers an integrated full featured HDTV set with all the rumored "goodness", than the Microsoft solution (XBox and Kinect) will seem clunky. It will work but it will still seem clunky compared to the Apple product.

    BTW, once again, IMO there is nothing wrong with the Microsoft solution to enhancing the TV experience except that it might take more work and understanding from the end user to fully appreciate it's abilities.
    kenosha77a
    • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

      "It could be argued that with Apple TV - version two - and an iPad or other iOS device, that Apple has already breached that threshold."

      What is your definition of "breached that threshold"? Make sure that when you give us your definition, you choose one that eliminates the millions of Xboxes and Windows powered HTPCs that are out there. Extra points if your definition does not include "must be made by Apple".
      toddybottom
      • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

        @toddybottom The Windows-powered HTPC's out there are very small in number and irrelevant at this point. Media Center hasn't been as much of a success as MS has hoped for. The vast majority of MS' IPTV success comes through the Xbox 360 and rightly so. They're doing a good job with the Xbox 360 TV initiative and should focus on that.
        smulji
      • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

        smulji: Apple TV is also very small in number and is still marketed as a "hobby" device so I was challenging the Apple fanboi to define "breached that threshold". He simply has to come up with a definition where a hobby device that hasn't sold in big numbers from Apple is defined as a success while at the same time ensuring that his definition does not give the same credit to Xbox and Windows powered HTPCs.
        toddybottom
      • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

        @toddybottom

        Before I answer your questions, toddybottom, I'd like to tell you a little ZDNet online history between myself and a poster known as NonZealot. Over the course of years, NZ and I would engage in long, interesting discussions on various topics. Normally he would cite examples from his MS Windows ecosystem background to support his position while I would counter with examples from my current Apple ecosystem experiences. In fact, I learned quite a bit about HTPC's from our discussions. We came to respect one another and I, for my part, could easily call him a friend. We both shared a trait of not suffering fools kindly and NZ would engage in online "baiting" of such individuals. (He would use the terms Fanboi, troll and other inflammatory rhetoric that came to mind when addressing those posters. He was also fond of "sound bite catch phrases. And, as I recall, Cue the Double Standards was a favorite of his.) I, for my part, have never addressed any poster using those inflammatory names and, IMHO, exercised a bit more leeway with fools but on rare occasions, I would also engage in such "baiting games". When we both admitted to that, we shared an online chuckle together. I would wish my friend a Merry Christmas this year once again but, sadly, he doesn't post anymore.

        Sorry about that bit of personal nostalgia. Let's get back to your questions. First, a definition is in order. My phrase, "breached that threshold" seemed to puzzle you. I used that phrase in relationship to AKH's first paragraph, in which he states, "Microsoft is planning to roll out a new dashboard update for its Xbox 360 console tomorrow that will see custom apps from a range of TV and entertainment content providers being made available. Is Microsoft looking to transform the Xbox from a games console to a TV connected PC?"

        What caught my mind's eye in that paragraph was the phrase "custom apps" and "TV connected PC".

        With iOS 5 installed on iOS devices incorporating an A5 SoC chipset, a second generation Apple TV, a local WiFi network and an HDTV, Apple has already "breached the threshold of a TV connected PC" running "custom apps".

        Of course, with the iOS 5's capability to mirror and/or stream digital content from custom apps to an HDTV, this ability has now become a reality.

        To make this point perfectly clear, every single app in the iOS ecosystem can now be displayed on a large screen HDTV. Every app. All hundred of thousands iPad specific apps quite frankly. And, of course, any embedded video content within those apps.

        We are not just talking the YouTube, Netflix and Hulu Plus custom apps that are common place now. Even Blu-Ray players contain a subset of online apps. We are talking about the full music and video iTunes ecosystem. The full iOS game app ecosystem. In fact, anything that can be displayed on a computer can be displayed via the Apple system I just described.

        Even Flash video. There are several ways to do that but one way that I use is to incorporate a VNC app on my iPad called Splashtop Remote. It's advantage over other VNC apps is that it also allows synched audio content along with video content. Therefore, by using the mirroring ability of iOS 5, I just bring up a flash video content from my iMac, stream that content to my iPad and then stream that content - via - my Apple TV - to my HDTV. Admittedly, I don't need to do that very often, but I assure you, I have that capability. (Of course, I also need one more piece of equipment, namely my iMac, but it is possible inside an Apple ecosystem.)

        Personally, I have now synched my whole music library to iCloud using the optional iMatch service and I actually used that capability the other day to listen to some music thru my home surround sound HDTV system.

        So there you have it, toddybottom. My home Entertainment System is now connected to the full Internet experience via all the custom iOS apps, the full iTunes music and video ecosystem and this content can either be displayed thru custom iPad apps (like HBO Go, Crackle, TV.com, excetera) or just using mirroring my iPad Safari or Skyfire web browser content.

        It should be noted that talk of "number of units sold" is irrelevant to this discussion. AKH's point was about a TV connected PC experience. And I answered that in my post.

        PS .. As my friend NZ realized, I'm neither a Fanboi or a troll. I'm simply a consumer that enjoys the benefits of the Apple ecosystem and will express those experiences from "time to time". I have never, and will never, criticize or publicly downplay another person's electronic ecosystem choices. I thought you would have noticed that by now.
        kenosha77a
  • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

    Playing to an installed base is not a way to impact this market. Just ask BlackBerry how tying their tablet sales to their phones.
    dheady@...
    • Playing to an installed base

      @dheady@...

      and adding features to a product you already own are two different things. If suddenly your BlackBerry became a tablet then it would be more like the features coming to XBox.
      LiquidLearner
  • Removed

    :)
    William Farrell
  • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

    Yes they can.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

    Six year old technology sits just fine with me. In this economy, I hate to be paying the likes of Apple hundreds of dollars year after year for technology that does basically the same thing since it was first introduced.
    BR999
  • Good place for yesterday's PC

    If a six-year-old XBox can do the job, then so can any 6-year-old PC. I know this because we have a hand-me-down HP tower sitting next to the TV... its job is to download stuff from Hulu and Amazon and feed it to the TV. Works fine.
    Robert Hahn
  • no way

    M$ might beat apple but not google!
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

      @The Linux Geek

      How is Google TV working out for you guys?
      Qbt
  • Gee why isn't everyone complaining about a locked down closed ecosystem

    which the Xbox is? You can't upgrade it, and as the author pointed out, it's already six year old tech...
    GoPower
    • Here is another thing they aren't complaining about

      @GoPower
      Why is it that I have to buy the Xbox 4S in order to get access to the entire set of new features?

      Oh wait
      toddybottom
    • RE: Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV

      @GoPower

      That is the whole point of a "console". Games I bought 6 years ago work perfectly on an Xbox I buy today, and games I buy today work perfectly on a console I bought 6 years ago.

      And if you actually knew anything about an Xbox you'd know it works surprisingly well for a 6 year old console.

      We are not talking about a *PC* here, this is a console. If you don't understand the difference, Google/Bing it.
      Qbt