Microsoft’s Xbox One is now out in the open and we have our first look at Microsoft’s vision of the future for gaming and entertainment. With a new Kinect, beefed up hardware, a new UI and a boatload of more features, Microsoft held nothing back with the Xbox One.
One of the more interesting features - one not related to gaming - is the ability to view live-TV through your Xbox and then discover additional content on the device or browse for your favorite tv shows using the built in guide feature; you can even change the channel by simply speaking to your Xbox One.
This feature will certainly have consumers turning on their Xbox One more frequently than the Xbox 360 as it now integrates with your live television. If a third-party device integrating with your existing television service sounds familiar, it should - Google tried the same thing with Google TV.
Google TV was positioned to have a similar set of features with the goal of helping consumers find more content they enjoyed, and delivered this via the Google TV software. The idea was to make viewing TV more interactive than what we are used to today, which is pointing an old block of plastic at the TV to find new content. It was a great idea, but an idea that was never fully adopted by the consumer.
To put it plainly, Google TV has flopped; in more charitable terms, Google TV has not been as widely adopted as Google had hoped. Eric Schmidt was even so bold to say that it would be on most TVs by the summer of 2012… Yeah, that didn't quite work out as hoped.
What Microsoft is doing here is not dissimilar to Google's vision - but their approach differs in integrating the TV interaction features with their Xbox One, a product that is likely to sell in the millions to gamers and media-hungry consumers who are looking for a next generation device for their living room.
By turning on one device, you can now game, stream content (Netflix, Hulu, etc) and view your regular TV content. This was much the same position Google TV (minus the gaming) was supposed to fill, but failed to do so - and now Google TV is all but written off by Google as it has failed to attract consumers.
So, as Microsoft moves deeper into the living-room and becomes a near end-all solution for consumers, Google will have to find a new way to penetrate this market that has long been desired, but in which few have succeeded, and none have yet conquered.
Of course, you can’t write off Sony at this point; with many unknowns remaining about their PlayStation 4 hardware, they could still give Microsoft stiff competition for media-savvy consumers too.