Microsoft To Turn XBox into Media Device

Well Microsoft just upgraded Xbox live with a ton of services.

It's got:

  • The usual stuff – Netflix, Hulu, Zune.
  • 26 TV channels from Verizon
  • Comcast's on demand movies.
  • A bunch of other stuff.

I've been a bit cynical that any company can make a Killbox for cable, but Microsoft might just do it – certainly it seems they are trying.

This also gives us an idea of Microsoft's future – it appears they're going for integrated media devices. In many cases this leapfrogs Apple, leveraging their game platform to make an entertainment platform in a way that makes Apple TV look kind of sad. Throw in the huge XBox userbase, and . . . well you get the idea.

Is this Kill Your Cable, the return of Microsoft, etc.? I don't know that, but I do know:

  • This is (and I hate using this phrase) a game-changer. It represents a definite viable Microsoft strategy, a challenge to others, a lot of alliances built by Microsoft, and a smart move. Microsoft is basically back with this (now let's see if anyone notices).
  • This demands a response from Sony, Google, Apple, and possibly Amazon and OnLive. Microsoft is good at making enemies, but they just challenged everyone else in this space with a hell of a delivery. Oh, and they did it during the holiday season. Look for companies to accelerate or modify plans.
  • This is immensely consumer-friendly. It's also delivered as an update which means people get it with (in theory) no fuss, no mess. This means people will get used to such things because it's delivered on an existing device. This is good for Microsoft and changes expectations (remember how the Nook was a stealth tablet?).
  • It changes how people deliver content – note the XBox still lacks a real browser. That locks out a lot of content, so it may lock some people out of delivery methods – and may lock out others depending on what deals Microsoft makes.

Things just got crazypants this holiday season with one update.  What follows is going to affect a lot of companies, and quite likely you and your career plans.

Steven Savage