Sobering reminder about the way in which technology companies over-promise and under-deliver time and time again. He notes the only gadget that has actually improved over the years is Microsoft’s Xbox. It’s six-years-old and has blossomed from a gaming console into a full-fledged entertainment console.
Microsoft is finally putting the pieces in place for its “three screens and a cloud” approach to computing. It’s the same one Apple is successfully taking, obviously, and one that Google is currently struggling how to crack. We won’t know how Microsoft fairs until all of its Windows 8 products are released, as well as the next-generation Xbox.
Another round of cleaning out the tab attic. Where to begin?
1. Joss Whedon sits down with Wired to talk about his new movie coming out today. You might have heard of it — The Avengers? Anyway, it’s a wide-ranging interview touching on Joss’ love for writing and language, comic books, and what went wrong with Dollhouse.
4. I’m ridiculously excited for the new Apollo Ghosts’ album, Landmark, which comes out May 8. You can stream the whole thing here and watch the video for the first single below. As far as I’m concerned, the Vancouver band has released two of the best albums in the last five or so years.
6. Netlifx might be in more trouble than people think, at least according to Forbes: “So creating and maintaining a content library is about to get more expensive, at a time when Netflix is already spending heavily. Technology costs were the biggest factor in Netflix’s latest operating loss. Higher licensing fees also played a substantial role. Together, they turned Netflix’s year-ago quarterly operating profit of $102.2 million into a $1.93 million loss.”
7. Barnes and Noble is adding NFC (near field communication) to its lineup of Nooks. This comes on the heels of their partnership announcement with Microsoft and the news that Nooks will be backlit for reading at night. Overall, I’ve always been fairly impressed with Barnes and Nobles’ Nook lineup.
8. Microsoft is releasing a version of the Xbox that comes with Kinect for $99 aimed at competing with Apple TV, Boxee and Roku, etc. Sounds great! Except that the new Xbox is the same gaming console as always and that $99 upfront price will end up costing you a two-year contract at $15 per month. Which means instead of paying $299 for an Xbox plus $120 for a Kinect, you end up spending a little more after two years. What would have been great is if Microsoft actually released an Apple TV competitor based on the Xbox that truly does cost $99. At this point, the Xbox should just be a device that connect to the internet for online gaming and streaming tv and movies, etc., right?
Over the last few months, Microsoft has turned its video-game console into your TV’s best friend. Late last year, the company revamped the Xbox’s interface, adding a wonderful voice-search feature through the Kinect motion-gaming add-on. Microsoft also added dozens of entertainment services to its Xbox Live online plan, including Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and on-demand video from cable and satellite services around the world. This week, the company is adding access to Comcast’s Xfinity on-demand service, as well as apps for HBO and MLB.TV.
The Comcast integration is particularly noteworthy. This is the first time the company’s on-demand service has been made available on a console, and it suggests that the cable giant realizes that it no longer rules your living room. Now, your cable subscription will sit alongside every other online service on your Xbox—it’s just another app in an endless stream of entertainment choices.
I agree with Manjoo that what Microsoft has done with Xbox has been phenomenal and the rumors that Microsoft is releasing a slimmed down version of the console to compete at AppleTV’s $99 price point is intriguing. Still, I don’t trust Microsoft when it comes to making an effortless user experience.
The reality is, people won’t want to pay for cable and Internet service. Nobody wants to pay for Comcast cable and watch it through the Xbox as an app. That just sounds stupid and cumbersome.
In an ideal world, there would be a digital media box connected to the Internet that one could plug into their TV with HDMI and plug speakers out of for better sound. It boots up fast, maybe has a built-in TV tuner for broadcast channels, it features some sort of cloud integration or networking ability so one could effortlessly access their music/movie/video library stored on another computer. That way you wouldn’t really need a huge hard-drive.
All other non-broadcast channels or content offerings like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, AMC, USA, HBO, MLB, NFL, etc. would just be subscription-based apps. You want to watch Bravo or the Food Network? No problem just download their app.
Maybe throw in a web browser and some gaming capabilities and you’d be all set. Tie all of that together through a single portal like iTunes to make it easy to pay for. What’s so hard about delivering something like that or what else would you need/want?