Microsoft adds Verizon and Comcast as TV partners for Xbox

first_imgMicrosoft is stepping up its aim of integrating live television into its Xbox 360 console. The Redmond, CA based company has announced new partnerships that include Verizon FiOS and Comcast to do just that. While there’s nothing wrong with watching live television on your gaming console, you have to already be a cable subscriber to use it, so it doesn’t strike me as being quite the revolution Microsoft is hoping for.Microsoft makes it clear what the appeal of this is. They want to create an integrated entertainment experience that combines media content, internet, voice control, and motion sensors and become the center of the 21st century living room. As rumors swirl of Apple entering the living room with a proper TV set, and Google flailing around with the largely unsuccessful Google TV, Microsoft is trying to use their “in” that they already have – the Xbox – to expand into the ultimate home entertainment solution provider.Current subscribers of any of the content partners (Verizon FiOS, Comcast, HBO Go, and others), who are also subscribers to Xbox Live Gold, can get in on the new Microsoft living room. If you’re one of these customers, then “a selection” of content will be available on your Xbox.If a Minority Report living room is your thing, then Microsoft is certainly trying to get your attention. A demo video shows a guy talking to his console, saying “Xbox, Bing Batman,” and using the Kinect sensor to make selections with his hand. We lost count of how many times the Microsoft rep mentioned “getting technology out of the way” (or something similar) in the video, so there’s no mistaking the goal here.While I can see why Microsoft would want to push this angle, as long as your content is locked down to the same providers, is this really anything significant? Anyone who can use this will already have a cable box with access to all of the same content, and then some.So what it comes down to is whether customers would prefer to use voice and gesture to change channels, or to just pick up the remote, like they’ve spent years programming themselves to do.If a company wants customers to go about a new way of doing things, don’t they need to give them a compelling reason to do so? As far as I’m aware, people aren’t that interested in controlling their TV-watching experience with their hands and voices. Sure, it can integrate the internet more into your viewing experience, but isn’t it just as easy to pick up your smartphone or tablet (or just ask Siri) and do a quick search?This strikes me as Microsoft wanting to create a product revolution without changing much of anything. Is it pretty cool to go hands-free? Sure. Is it that big of a deal? I see it as more of a novel surface pasted onto a familiar experience.Now, if we could ever get a service like this that also eliminates the need to go through Verizon or Comcast, then we could really have a revolution in the living room. While Microsoft may not have the power to single-handedly wrestle control from the traditional content providers, we won’t likely see the kind of unified entertainment experience that they’re shooting for until somebody does.More at Microsoft, via Engadgetlast_img read more