I was reading one of my favorite writers, Robert X Cringely, and was reading his opinions on Microsoft vs Apple for the living room. He tends to lean towards Apple winning, but I am not so sure.
Although Apple has done a great job with the iPod, iTunes, and will release the iTV soon, Microsoft may have already won with the XBox 360. When Steve Jobs gave us a sneak peek of the iTV a little while ago, one of the things I was not hearing about was the purchase/delivery of HD movies. I think iTunes is delivering near DVD quality, but as someone that has owned a large HDTV for a couple years I want HD content.
Microsoft is already selling HD Movies on their XBox 360 and it is already integrated in to almost 10 million home theater systems. (Ok, they are close to selling 10 million of them and I am making the leap of faith that most are connected to home theaters). So Microsoft is slightly in the lead here. Apple has probably not told us everything about their iTV plans, but even though Front Row is in hot pursuit or Microsoft’s Media Center, there does not seem to be any Tivo-like capabilities. Another nod for Microsoft.
Microsoft is not perfect and they don’t win them all, but they rarely lose when it is a market they want. This seems to be a market that Microsoft wants badly. Don’t get me wrong, if you visit here often you know I love Apple and its products, but this is going to be a tough one to win. The iPod luster can’t last forever as cell phones are getting better and better at playing music. Hopefully the rumors of the iPhone come true or Apple could very well watch the market they conquered fade quickly off in to the sunset.
The very music format lock-in that people complain about could work in Apple’s favor as most are probably not willing to do the work necessary to move their iTunes purchased content in to another Vendor’s product. Apple releasing a phone could reduce the amount of devices we carry and still allow us to take our iTunes purchased content with us. We’re very close to a cell phone that not only makes calls, but has a good camera, video camera, and music player. All Apple has to do is release a phone and people will go nuts over it.
Even though we are having a blast with the Wii, the thought of owning an XBox 360 for all of its media integration is tempting. Time will tell which way we, and the rest of the market, go. I can’t speak for the rest of them, but I’ll wait and see what Apple actually releases with the iTV.