Sunday, July 28, 2013

Is there a need for Xbox TV?

Xbox One is touted by Microsoft as being able to serve all of your entertainment needs. What is the point of an "Xbox TV" then?

According to writer Danny Sullivan of Cnet.com, there is. He believes that while the Xbox 360 is a capable streaming device, it is overlooked by consumers due to its premium cost in comparison to Roku and Apple TV.

Sullivan concludes by saying that Xbox should "[l]ose the gaming functionality [and] focus on the video (and perhaps music)," and that by doing so Microsoft will be able to gain a foothold into households seeking pure streaming devices. He basically wants Microsoft to create an Xbox version of Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast; in other words a small hockey puck sized device that generates little to no heat and is dedicated solely to streaming content.

The problem with this is that, in my mind, it severely diminishes the Xbox brand. As seen with the 360 and now the One, Microsoft wants Xbox to be a brand that encompasses every possible form of entertainment you might need in your living room. By creating a stripped down Xbox made only for streaming, you are throwing out everything that Microsoft wants their entertainment console to be: the end all be all option for every home's living room.


Sullivan laments that the Xbox 360 is more expensive than other streaming devices, but really, why is that a problem? If you buy an Xbox for your living room, you won't need an extra DVD player, gaming console, or Roku box; it's all right there in one neat package. So in reality it's not like you are actually paying more; indeed, if you just bought a Roku box you would still need to buy several other devices to flesh out your living room's entertainment center.

To close, creating something like the Xbox TV would ruin the Xbox brand, a brand that is supposed to represent the entire living room entertainment experience. If you strip that down in order to produce a device to directly compete with Roku, then the Xbox brand loses its significance.

If Microsoft really does want to offer a streaming device separate from their all-encompassing Xbox brand, they should name it something else, something like Bing TV or Windows Stream Box. Whatever they do, they shouldn't associate it with Xbox, a brand that Microsoft has been marketing heavily as the thing that will serve all of your entertainment needs now and for years to come.

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