Now six years old, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is a veteran entertainment powerhouse, combining high-def gaming, hands-free control with Kinect, Internet video from Netflix and Hulu Plus and live streaming video from ESPN.
What more can you ask for from an aging console? Well, how about Live TV integration and Skype?
“This is only the beginning,” said head of Xbox Live Mark Whitten at E3 2011.
LIVE TV COMING TO XBOX this FALL:
Microsoft announced on June 6, 2011 that Live TV is coming to Xbox 360 this fall via Xbox Live. Head of Xbox Live Mark Whitten failed to give concrete details on Live TV but in an interview with The Seattle Times, Microsoft’s vice president of global marketing Mike Delman shed a little more light on the service.
“It will be tied to either a satellite broadcast company or a cable company. So in international markets, you’ll just have one provider. In the U.S., it will be bifurcated by region, by market. You’ll be a Comcast guy [in Seattle], for example,” Delman told The Seattle Times.
Other soon-to-appear features were unveiled at E3. In addition to Live TV, Xbox is getting YouTube, Bing and complete voice control through Kinect.
Xbox Kinect was introduced in Q4 2010. Since its inception, Kinect has helped push Xbox 360 sales and offer a new way to game, to control and to experience living-room entertainment.
According to Reuters, Kinect has sold 10 million units since its launch last fall, becoming the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. The motion device allows users to control Kinect-compatible games and applications via gesture and voice commands, completely controller-free.
“You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” Whitten said of Kinect at E3.
According to CNET’s Erica Ogg, when Bing is introduced, users will be able to use its search function to find more content to watch by searching the web, YouTube, Live TV and all the services on Xbox Live including existing services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. The Kinect’s voice control will also allow users to search for content with voice commands.
Microsoft Acquires Skype
Skype is coming to Xbox 360’s console via Xbox Live after Micrsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in May. The pairing of Kinect and Skype makes perfect sense, and moves Microsoft’s Xbox to another area of our lives: business and communication.
“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype must still reportedly receive regulatory antitrust approvals before the deal is finalized.
Xbox Live is the center of it all
Behind every announcement, every acquisition and every new feature is Xbox Live. Microsoft clearly has big plans for its Xbox Live service.
According to WinRumors.com, Xbox Live will be built into Windows 8, Microsoft’s next operating system. The service was recently introduced on Microsoft’s Windows phone.
“Live has been successful on the Windows Phone. Live will be built into the PC,” Microsoft’s vice president of global marketing Mike Delman told The Seattle Times. “It will be the service where you get your entertainment.”
A subscription is required to access Xbox Live and its growing list of services. Namely, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Live and On-demand video content from ESPN and some of the best streaming news content available anywhere with NBC News.
NBC News on Xbox Live
With the NBC News channel on Xbox Live, users have on-demand access to today’s news in a variety of categories, most of which contain 15 clips from the most-recent episodes or topics.
NBC News Content:
- Top News
- Most Viewed
- NBC Nightly News
- Today Show (25 of the latest clips)
- US News
- World News
- Meet the Press
- Dateline NBC (Preview of next TV episode)
- MSNBC TV
- Weird News
NBC News on Xbox Live offers on-demand, up-to-date news content, allowing users to pause, fast-forward and rewind commercial-free news content. It’s by far some of the best streaming news around, second only to Roku’s Newscaster.
I’ve told you before that if I had to pick one streaming box it’d be Roku. I still feel that way. But if I had to pick one gaming system, it would be Xbox 360. Apparently I’m not alone.
Xbox 360 sales on the rise
In the console’s sixth year on the market, Xbox 360 sales continue to increase at an unprecedented rate.
We may one day look back on 2011 as the year that video game systems became more than a simple toy. Microsoft has successfully launched and maintained a true home-entertainment hub. Games. Video. Kinect. Search. Live Streaming Video. And now Skype.
Xbox 360 has far surpassed the normal shelf-life of video-game systems. And with sales still on the rise, Microsoft seems to have the game figured out: Innovation. With Kinect and streaming video from Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN and NBC News, Microsoft is not only following the movement; it’s leading it.
Source: CNet, Reuters, Xbox, WinRumors, The Seattle Times, Gamespy.com, All Things Digital, Digital Trends, Mashable, Fast Company