#9312601, By frunk Microsoft's Strategy for XBox Infinity (NextBox, 720...)

  • frunk 22 Jan 2013 17:33:03 46 posts
    Seen 12 hours ago
    Registered 10 years ago
    Seeing Microsoft's current corporate strategy & the XBox Infinity (or whatever it was called) block diagram & specs starting to come to light I think it is reasonably easy to understand what the headline feature set of the thing will be.

    3Gb RAM set aside for OS and a HDD: The only reason you need that much space is for a "proper OS". Microsoft's strategy for Win8 has been to get it into as many devices as possible - so it is a bit of a no-brainer that that OS will be Windows 8 or a SetTop version of it (a version similar to Windows RT on the Surface). It will be a closed ecosystem like the Surface RT and require apps to only be provided through the App Store.

    Kinect 2.0 on every console will allow the user to use their TV just like a giant tablet, therefore opening the above Apps store to a much wider variety of applications than what we are used to with gestures and voice.

    The HDMI 1.4a input is a give away too. It will be used to plug in your output of your AV amp or primary device plugged into the TV (e.g.: Sky Box) to put the XBox in-line with you video display to allow overlay of content. Suddenly all those SmartGlass efforts start looking like they have a point - this is all about augmenting what is on-screen... even the name "Glass" is a giveaway don't you think?

    All they need to do it pop a couple of IR LEDs on your Xbox and it can control all your devices through the XBox. I think those IR-LEDs are built into the "Controller" box in the system diagram - hell build the IR sender into the controllers themselves to maximise room coverage, but a little wireless box would do the same trick.

    Wait a minute - won't putting the XBox in line with your Sky Box kill the sound to your AV amp? Nah... you have the joy of the HDMI 1,4a Audio Return Channel to get around that.. and failing that the SP/DIF. MS is not gonna put these connections on every XBox unless they think they really need it in EVERY XBox. I believe they have thought it through.

    So put all that together and what do you have?

    Your TV becomes a giant tablet you work with your hands and voice, able to do anything your computer, tablet or console does. It can play games and augment the other activities you do with your screen. You can download approved social apps, network video streaming apps and games from a huge eco-system of Windows developers and properly interact with them, assuming Kinect 2.0 and Voice recognition is up to snuff. Given the investment MS has made in these areas they *should* do by now!

    Look further for the evidence; Wifi Direct & the Video Codec allows you to do ALL the Nintendo Wii-U type stuff with a connected tablet or phone... even take your game on the move while allowing the NextBox to do stuff on your telly at the same time. Or vice versa - take your TV viewing away on your tablet and let your kids play Halo 5 at the big screen. That simple block diagram has let the cat out the bag and offers thousands of possibilities.

    Suddenly the XBox is the "Centre of your living room" which is exactly what Microsoft want.

    From a business perspective it all makes perfect sense; Apple owns the Apps Store (and their 30% cut) in your phone and tablet along with Google. PC's will stay forever unchained despite what MS wants - the backlash would be too harsh for them to stomach. However Google & Apple have both "had a go" at the TV market. The living room is the last great untapped Apps opportunity. Every TV manufacturer has had a go and created a fragmented mess which no-one takes seriously.

    No-one is willing to buy a set-top box to do all this stuff until it hits a saturation point. Also no-one will buy a box to "just do this". By leveraging the XBox brand, some good games and the positive will of the gaming public they will "Create the new standard" for Living Room apps by getting it in tens of millions of houses.

    The rumoured "second SKU" of XBox - the one that does not play games also suddenly becomes useful once you hit that critical mass of adoption.

    With the existing Windows development community working through the Microsoft Apps Store they finally get their 30% of people's casual spending money, like Apple and Google do.

    Forget Kinect folks, this is REAL MS strategy. This is their last chance to tie up a closed market for themselves.

    It's clever, it's elegant and it may well just work.

    On the downside, Microsoft know exactly what you are doing, not just which game you are playing, they will be able to see:
    - Watching TV? Which channel?
    - Playing a Blu-ray in the XBox - which one?
    - Who is participating... Kinect can tell how many people are watching, their ages, sex and probably ethnicity (you saw those patents)

    I would REALLY look carefully at those XBL privacy terms when I crack open the box - I sense a privacy lawsuit in the offing. This type of data has HUGE value. Why do you think Microsoft is bigging up their Kinect-enabled adverts? They can overlay these on the real TV ads as they pass by in real time - suddenly they are in the TV advert business without buying airtime. More lawsuits here I think :)

    So on top of their 30% app store cut, they get to sell advertisers viewing data and our other habits AND sell augmented advertising. It's win-win-win for MS.

    So folks... tell me I am wrong? What have I not considered? Point out the holes in my thinking! Surely a DF article should discuss this with minds better than mine?

    It ties up all those MS initiatives (XBox, SmartGlass, Apps Store, multiple SKUs, Kinect & Ads). It is not as if MS have ever said they DON'T want to be in everyone's living room and the centre of your digital life.
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