The fight for control of how we access content in our living rooms is heating up with Apple recently releasing an upgraded version of AppleTV (and a possible future iTV), Google pushing its own TV services, and the emergence of YouView – Microsoft’s XBox continues to add content partners to the XBox already connected to millions of TVs at home.
Google and Apple are struggling to get people to purchase an extra box to connect to their TV for access to their digital services, but with its popular XBox for home-gaming – Microsoft is already there and connected. The addition of BBC iPlayer is definitely a great addition for the Redmond-based company as well, with Auntie producing a large number of the UK’s most watched TV shows – but importantly access to iPlayer within the UK is free and not bundled with the premium XBox Gold package. The BBC is, then, the first broadcaster to sign up to XBox 360 and make its content free – an important milestones, and a path we hope will be followed by ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5.
As the Xbox can be controlled by Microsoft’s Kinect, users can control iPlayer with voice and gesture controls – alleviating the need for a remote – that hangover from the 1970s that is a really poor way to navigate the wealth of services available through modern TVs. When Apple finally launches iTV or an AppleTV with Siri controls, something expected next year, they will have been beaten by Microsoft by 18 months on a box already inside a large number of homes.
The only companies that can really rival Microsoft’s XBox right now are Sony with its PlayStation3, and Nintendo with its cheap and very popular Wii – both of which already offer BBC iPlayer – but it is the Kinect navigation that currently means that Microsoft is sitting on top. TV on-demand is the future, and Microsoft has taken the early lead.