Microsoft's 'Xbox TV' aspirations put it on a collision course with Apple and Google

Microsoft's 'Xbox TV' aspirations put it on a collision course with Apple and Google

Summary: Reports suggest that Microsoft is planning a new assault on the living room with an Xbox-branded set-top box, but players such as Apple and Google are unlikely to give up without a fight.

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Rumor is that Microsoft is planning to leverage the Xbox brand in order to build set-top box that will offer a low-cost alternative to its full gaming console.

According to The Verge, the set-top box "will run on the core components of Windows 8 and support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console."

In other words, it's an Xbox, but in name only.

Microsoft's Xbox brand remains relatively strong, with some 70 million Xbox 360 consoles sold since its release back in November 2005, and commanding the top spot in the console charts for months -- but it's by no means an outright success. Released only a year later, Sony sold a similar number of PlayStation 3 consoles, while Nintendo has managed to shift almost 100 million Wii consoles.

But compared to the almost 400 million iPhones and iPads in circulation, it's a mere drop in the ocean.

The living room is becoming the new battleground for technology companies. Microsoft, Google and Apple are all eyeing the space, but so far not making a huge amount of progress. The $99 Apple TV set-top box is, in Cupertino's own words, a "hobby project", and while Google is dabbling with smart TVs, set-top boxes, an alternative to Apple's AirPlay streaming standard, and a (now-defunct) Nexus Q streaming device, none of this has had the desired impact.

The living room is a tough market to break into, with even established players -- such as Sony -- hemorrhaging money. Kit that people hook up to their TVs remains no-where near as exciting as tablets and smartphones and e-readers, and as such these gadget manufacturers having a hard time gaining significant traction.

Microsoft is hoping that by combining gaming with home entertainment, and packaging this in a brand that people already know, that it might be in with a chance. It's certainly a novel idea, and depending on a number of factors -- namely the price -- it could be one that ultimately succeeds.

But, Apple and Google have invested heavily in this area and are unlikely to step aside as give up ground to Microsoft. Now that smartphones and tablets have become mainstream, the big players are looking for the next opportunity, and right now that opening seems to be focused around the television. This is where the next consumer electronic battle will be fought.

It's not the first time that there have been rumors that Microsoft was going to expand the Xbox brand. There's been talk of an Xbox tablet for some time now, although no hardware has yet materialized. 

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Hardware

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23 comments
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  • Nah

    This market will pickup once people realize the benefits of the smart TV with Google TV installed.

    Apple TV is s pretty weak device that was fairly well organized until the last update.

    Roku is an anomaly of sorts.

    Nintendo TVii is a wild card.

    Basically, Google TV offers the best option for complete integration at the moment.
    slickjim
    • Google TV is not ready, Xbox TV is

      "Google TV offers the best option for complete integration"

      What led you to this conclusion?
      Tim Acheson
      • Simple

        I have used Windows for years and owned an XBox 360 for years...

        My brother has a Roku and that is a different animal.

        We have a Wii U and the TVii isn't on it yet.

        Apple TV does little more than act as a front end for iTunes.

        Google TV is a pass through device with a web backbone. It integrates seamlessly with your Cable Box, DVR, Streaming Services (Vudu, Crackle, Netflix, Google, and Amazon), and it clearly has a vision others lack! Oh yeah and you can throw Bluray integration in there as well if you get the Sony model (Which I have).

        Believe me, Google TV 3 will roll out shortly and it will include Miracast as well as being based on the more stable ICS or Jellybean builds.

        I know the system was flaky but, 2.0 improved that a lot and 3.0 is supposed to be the release that puts it over the top with the possibility of Google Now being built in.
        slickjim
    • Bad decisions

      Microsoft made an iPod rival called Zune (Dead)
      Microsoft made an iPhone rival called Kin (Dead)
      Microsoft made an iPad rival called Surface (Not doing well according to Microsoft)
      Now they want to build an Apple TV rival?

      Microsoft should put more effort into their software (to make it better than it has been), and stop trying to compete with Apple's hardware.
      Harvey Lubin
      • We really don't know how the surface is doing

        "When asked about Surface, Steve's use of the term "modest" was in relation to the company's approach in ramping up supply and distribution of Surface with Windows RT, which has only been available via our online store and certain Microsoft retail stores in the U.S. While our approach has been modest, Steve notes the reception to the device has been "fantastic" which is why he also stated that "soon, it will be available in more countries and in more stores." "
        Michael Alan Goff
  • Xbox TV is in a different league to Apple TV and Google TV

    This could revolutionise TV, just as Xbox 360 has already started to do.

    Comparing with lame Apple TV or Google Tv does not do justice to Microsoft's market-leading entertainment platform.
    Tim Acheson
    • What led you to this conclusion?

      "Market-leading platform"

      Did you infer that by comparing sales of 70mm Xbox units to over 400mm iOS devices?

      Maybe by the fact that Mac is actually adding market share, while PC is dropping like a rock and PC manufacturers are dropping their PC lines?

      Or was it from the fact that iOS has unseated all others as the leading gaming platform in the world?

      Or maybe you're believing the press releases put out by the desperate MS Marketing department?
      gregv2k
      • Re:...conclusion?

        "Did you infer that by comparing sales of 70mm Xbox units to over 400mm iOS devices?"

        Why you compare iOS devices vs XBox? If we had a more close comparison (since the XBox is a lot more than than the Apple TV) it would be the 5m Apple TV's vs the 70m XBox devices.

        "Maybe by the fact that Mac is actually adding market share, while PC is dropping like a rock and PC manufacturers are dropping their PC lines? "
        Since I cannot post links, here are some lines from an Apple Insider article regarding Mac sales,

        "U.S. Mac sales in October were down 16 percent year over year, according to the latest data from NPD Group. But Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray noted that Mac sales have exceeded NPD figures by an average of 12 percentage points in the last three quarters, which suggests, overall Mac sales were down just 4 percent year over year.

        Munster's estimates call for Mac sales to be down 7 percent year over year in the December quarter, which would be 4.8 million total units.

        The NPD figures suggest Mac sales were down 40 percent when compared to September. That's a normal seasonal trend as back-to-school sales end, Munster said."

        So it's so nice neither in the Apple world with Mac sales. BTW, interesting that Apple like to compare to all PC makers, while avoid specific ones, like Lenovo. Here are some information from PC World regarding Lenovo,
        "During the company’s fiscal second quarter ending on Sept. 30, Lenovo reported that its PC shipments grew year-over year by 10.3 percent. During the quarter, the Chinese company was named the world’s largest PC vendor by research firm Gartner. "
        "In its fiscal first quarter, Lenovo reported 30 percent year-on-year growth in net profit. Last year, the company saw profit growth almost doubling year-over-year in some quarters."

        "Or was it from the fact that iOS has unseated all others as the leading gaming platform in the world?"
        Any links to support that? Or are you thinking that because games are being played in iOS it's automatically a gaming platform? It that was the case, then Windows 7 would be far ahead with more than 600m. Thats a number larger than all iOS devices sold.
        dvm
      • Seriously?

        There age maybe 2 to 3 Million Apple TV devices and that is just a front end for iTunes. Truth be told, 400 Million means nothing when they're not built for the living room.
        slickjim
    • really?

      360 hasn't revolutionized anything. The majority of households do not have the 360 and more households have PS3 which is a Sony product and Sony has thrown in behind Google TV.
      slickjim
  • Another stupid idea?

    I thought my TV is already digital. How much more can it cost to add a better ARM based CPU/GPU chip, some cheap flash, an internet connection, an SD card slot and Android? The game controller can be an optional accessory, or you can use your smart phone.

    These add on boxes from whomever are just pointless, doomed to fail stopgap measures. Why the heck would I pay for an external box running the core of Windows 8 to do casual gaming? With Android (or iOS for that matter) I could play the same games on my phone, tablet and TV, seamlessly switching from one device to another. How will MS compete with that using Xbox and Windows 8?
    D.T.Long
    • About $100

      Get yourself a Vizio Costar and you have just what you're looking for.
      slickjim
  • LOL

    I think most of them will fail. My PC plugs in to my TV, doesn't mean I want to use it on my TV, I like having the TV on when using my PC.

    My android tablet plugs in to my HDTV with HDMI and runs films in 1080p and games/apps really well, but the novelty of having apps on my TV lasted 10 minutes, graphics not as good as xbox and miles away from my PC. Because you can't plug your iphone/ipad in to the TV, you will have to buy a $2000 TV so you can have your apps on it.

    I watch TV/digital content on my TV (from PC, XBOX(Netflix, BBC iplayer etc), and my £50 network media player for 1080p DTS MKV's and avi's from my NAS Drive), Microsoft and Apple will not be selling me a new box.

    I play games on my pc/xbox, through my monitor, with DVI and HDMI connection, so no messing with cables as always plugged in, and I can still have the TV on.

    Angry birds and browsing, and all other apps I use on my tablet.

    Just because you can converge technology doesn't mean it benefits anyone, or enhances your experience.

    All of the technology I use in my living room, 42 inch 1080p TV, PC, Xbox, surround sound system, tablet and media player cost me less than 1 Apple TV will probably cost.

    Smart Devices = Stupid Users.

    I would rather have 5 screen in my living room for 5 devices, than try and cram 5 devices in to one screen.
    welshcheese
    • Wrong.

      "Because you can't plug your iphone/ipad in to the TV, you will have to buy a $2000 TV so you can have your apps on it."

      So wrong. You can connect an iPad to a TV in a few different ways. One with an HDMI adapter cable. This adapter will allow you to mirror whatever is on the screen of your iPad 4, iPad mini, iPhone 5, and iPod touch (5th generation) with Lightning connector - including apps, websites, photos, video, slideshows, and more — on your HDMI-equipped TV.

      Another way which is the best way imo is purchasing an AppleTV for $99. That way you can stream or mirror wirelessly whatever app, games, content on your iOS device to you TV. It doesn't get any better than Airplay.

      http://www.apple.com/airplay/
      dave95.
  • It Is About Time...

    The Microsoft ecosystem is missing cheap devices that can be "PlayTo" targets.
    With this possible addition, it would fill this void, assuming they understand they key point here: CHEAP.

    If this device has a decent UX, HDMI output, can be a "PlayTo" target and is really affordable, it can be a winner.
    TheCyberKnight
  • Adrien, your fruit-flavoured pom-poms are showing...

    "But compared to the almost 400 million iPhones and iPads in circulation, it's a mere drop in the ocean."

    Interestingly, I walk around the office and see many people with iPods, iPhones, or iPads (me, included). Yep. I see the same thing in the streets. I ask these people if they have an XBox in their back pocket, and for some reason they look at me stragely. I wonder why that is.

    It doesn't take a leap to see why iPods and iPhones would outsell a console, just the same as a desktop computer system. Most families will have one, maybe two XBoxes (we have none, but we have a Wii and a PS3 in the house, and there's an XBox in my office), but we have two smartphones (both Android), and four iPods (two Touches, a shuffle and a nano). One is considered a "family" device, one is considered a "personal" device.

    As others have mentioned, Apple does make a far more comparable device to the XBox, however I guess you would have had a hard time trumping up Apple's success in that market, wouldn't you? You, sir, are the Apple ying to Steven J's Linux Yang. Be proud, and keep up the dubious cheerleading - lest someone mistake you for a real journalist!
    daftkey
  • Microsoft should stick with making a GOOD OS.

    Personally I love the Google TV. Apple products are for the computer illiterate and I don't encourage anyone getting them because they are nothing more then overpriced and filled with crap hardware. I don't think I'll be curious enough to see Xbox TV. Microsoft has been ruing themselves. First it was the Xbox 360 with failure rates upto 50%. Vista was a complete flop. Windows 7 was okay but it really was a slight upgrade from Vista. I have heard nothing but horrid things about Windows 8, and there mobile devices come off the market as fast as they go on. What Microsoft should do is make one solid product and work from there. They are trying to battle on the market and personally I don't here anyone praising there name except Xbox fan boys. So for them to be working on smart set top box's is ridiculous and I feel it will be nothing more then the awful products they have been releasing.
    Tomasz Janusz
  • oh and I forgot to mention.

    70 million consoles sold is more of a profit number instead of actual running Xbox's STILL running in peoples homes. One of my friends is on his 3rd one, so 70 million units out there in practicality means only about 40 million that are out there that are still in running condition. Guessing on that number due to the fact of Xbox's failure rates reaching up to 50% at its worst.
    Tomasz Janusz
  • Apple is leveraging iOS, Microsoft is trying to leverage XBox

    All three companies I think understands that the living-room is key here in tying their ecosystem together. Microsoft have been trying for years to capture this market with Windows Media Center (big complex PC in the living-room). And when that effort failed, consumers ignored it even when it was bundled freely with PCs. They then turned to the XBox in desperation as something else to leverage for the living-room.

    The issue I see with this strategy is the audience that's buying XBox and PlayStations are not exactly the casual gaming types, they are serious gamers. Not the same market. And when compared to the almost 400 million iPhones and iPads in the wild, XBox are a niche market. Add to that, majority of XBox users probably couldn't care less about using their XBox as a media box for their TV (movies, TVs, Apps etc). They may stand a better chance with this rumored casual Box but we shall see how well its managed.

    The key to the living-room imo is the devices everyone have in their hands right now (smart phones, tablets). That's why I see Apple succeeding in the market, they already have the advantage in the smart phone and tablet market (casual market which the TV falls under). My iPad is already my smart TV, whenever I need to view something on the big screen I simply push it over via Airplay.
    dave95.
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