On November 22nd 2013, Microsoft released its much hyped gaming console the Xbox one positioning itself to take over and dominate your living room.
Whilst the Xbox one just like its predecessors the Xbox and Xbox 360 focuses primarily on video games, we would be selling the system short by simply calling it a video game machine. It is much more than that, and it is no secret that Microsoft has been looking for a way to break into the users’ living room and control pretty much every function associated with entertainment.
Why does Microsoft need to do this you might ask, well let’s look at some of Microsoft’s competitors in the entertainment space. Sony, Nintendo, Apple, Google, Netflix and even Amazon. Each of these companies in recent months have announced a product or two that signifies just how important the living room is to their goals. Netflix started off as a video rental company, but now produces its own shows, including the critically acclaimed series House of Cards. Its well on its way to becoming a major content producer, diversifying the way it is run as a business. Sony just like its rival Microsoft released the Playstation 4 last year, whilst Nintendo had sent its Wii U into the wild in 2012. Both the Playstation 4 and Wii U are arguably similar to the Xbox One, but so far when it comes to packaging an all-inclusive media powerhouse, Microsoft seems the most aggressive in getting content to consumers.
Amazon which was once known as a retailer, has slowly been moving into the media and entertainment realm, by not only developing its own shows, but it announced the Fire TV this year, which allows users to play games and also watch shows, movies and the like on their set up box.
Both Apple and Google with their IOS and Android operating systems have enough content to power their Apple TV and Google TV setups. In other words, the new arms race is taking place in consumer’s homes and the living room is the preferred battle field.
Why the living room is so important?
The living room is technically where most entertainment in the house is located. Tons of hours are spent in that section of the home, and that’s where most of the tech companies have targeted their products. The more time you spend on a certain product, the more likely you will buy stuff associated with it. The underlying logic behind Microsoft using the Xbox to control pretty much all your entertainment wants and needs is it allows them to keep you in their ecosystem and also peddle their products to you that way.
Microsoft has been able to partner with companies like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, the NFL, ESPN and a bevy of other multimedia content providers. Are you getting the gist by now? I’ll elaborate further. For years, cable has had a stranglehold over most TV watchers. There was a time when it was hard to go without cable and also watch quality TV.
What companies like Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon and even Apple through Itunes have done, is break up the stranglehold cable companies have on viewers, by splitting their offering (Channels and Shows) into smaller packages. Microsoft has taken the convenience of the Itunes stores, paired it up with the technology of their gaming system, and put it all together in one box.
Microsoft has also taken a step into content creation, by making its own shows and programming available for its Xbox users. Whilst a lot of the shows are geared towards a male audience, and might sound sexist, one should note that its mostly males that use their Xbox for streaming activities rather than video gaming, which makes them a prime target for what the technology titan is trying to do.
Another savvy move Microsoft made was partnering with the NFL, to bring exclusive content to the Xbox. Whilst on the surface this sounds like just another partnership to bring sports to casual viewers, it must be noted that the NFL is the most watched sport in America. By doing this, Microsoft has provided itself with another avenue to keep the user glued to its content, using their console. It’s a win-win for both the NFL and the company Bill Gates Founded.
Yes, the Xbox one primarily plays video games, but it also operates your TV, can be used to group chat via Skype, with its Kinect accessory it can read your heart rate, it can recognize you based on your voice and facial expressions, which also means it can work with voice commands and last but not the least, you can watch TV and play games simultaneously.
In conclusion, the Xbox one does not totally usurp Cable TV. People can still have Cable television and use an Xbox One, in fact the Xbox One allows you to plug your cable box into the system and arranges your channels in order. Yet, without a cable box, the Xbox one can provide you with pretty much whatever you need to not miss Cable. For those looking to cut costs and wean themselves off cable providers, the solution might be Microsoft’s little magic box.
I believe this quote by one of the engineers who created the Xbox one sums it up well, “When we launch Xbox One, it’s not a finish line,” it’s a starting line.”
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