Microsoft, were you listening or did I just nail your intention to integrate Internet services into Xbox 360 through the Bing search engine and widgets? Early in November I described how the company may have supercharged Xbox 360 through Kinect, the add-on to the Xbox 360 entertainment console, but the one basic tool that could turn the console into a true entertainment experience doesn't exist in the box.
"Integrating Bing into the Xbox 360 console would give consumers the ability to search for content on the Internet and provide a competitive alternative to Google TV and Apple TV," I wrote back then. "It would give advertisers another opportunity to raise awareness through the combined Bing and Yahoo search deal."
Apparently, Microsoft is in talks with media companies to license content from TV networks for a subscription Web TV service through Xbox 360, according to Reuters. It also reminds us that for years Microsoft has played in the TV business and invested in interactive television initiatives like Web TV and MSN TV set-top box software.
No word yet of integrating Bing, but Microsoft certainly can't leave the search engine out of the mix.
Microsoft, of course, doesn't comment on rumor or speculation. But no need to confirm when the tech company continues to tout Xbox 360 as an entertainment center, rather than a game console. So, it has no choice but to compete with the likes of Google and Apple. Besides, the Redmond, Wash., Home of the Future, where Microsoft features experimental technology wouldn't be complete without it.
Ties to movie studios like Pixar and social networks such as Facebook will give consumers direct connections with the services.
At Microsoft's cloud focused Professional Developer Conference 2010, Pixar Studios, founded by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, talked about the proof of concept highlighting animation in the application RenderMan on Windows Azure. A computer graphics (CG) movie is converted from data to video frame by frame through a process called rendering. With all the data that goes into a movie it would take years and years to render without the proper software and processing speeds.
Google already launched Google TV, but the Web-TV service led to partnerships with Sony televisions and Logitech set-top boxes met with resistance from Viacom, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox-all have blocked Internet versions of their shows through Google TV.
What's at stake? Billions, according to Evan Sakes from Lungfish Communications, Needham, Mass, who calls my attention to all the dollars "entrenched in the 'traditional' TV business model." He tells us through a blog comment that cable companies charge between "$50 and $200 per month, and programmers get $.05 to $5 per sub per month, plus billions of dollars more in network advertising, against which they make long-term rights commitments to properties like the NFL and the Olympics to promote the rest of their on-air skeds."
Saks tells us Viacom and others haven't ignored the potential to make money on the side. Maybe Microsoft will get it right and give networks a portion of the "long-term control of of a multi-billion dollar industry," which in turn will give Microsoft a greater degree of success?