The Xbox and Xbox 360 have long been designed to be Microsoft’s Trojan horse into consumers’ living rooms, and that horse appears to be opening up a bit more today, as word spreads that Microsoft is working on a service that will compete with the likes of Google TV and Apple TV and be available via the Xbox 360.
In an interview with Reuters, officials indicated that Microsoft is having proactive discussions with media companies to license various network TV programs for a subscription web TV service. Microsoft has dabbled in Web TV in the past and failed, but with the Xbox 360 selling at a much higher clip than the company’s previous failed TV service, this new venture could very well have legs.
Another feather in the Xbox 360 TV’s cap is that the service would be accessible directly through the Xbox 360, which has a large install base already. Both Apple TV and Google TV, meanwhile, which would be direct competitors to Microsoft’s TV service, would rely on consumers buying new devices.
According to VentureBeat, “one possibility is that [Microsoft] will create a ‘virtual cable operator’ that would deliver TV over the web for a monthly fee. Alternatively, the Xbox 360 could be used to offer increased interactivity for existing cable TV subscribers. Microsoft could also offer individual channels like HBO or Showtime in an a la carte fashion — something the cable industry has long avoided.”
Whatever happens, Microsoft is definitely making strides to fulfilling the Xbox hardware’s Trojan horse potential. Many people still consider the Xbox 360 a gaming device first and foremost, but if the recent addition and adoption of ESPN and other programming is any indication, the Xbox 360 could very well turn into the all-in-one entertainment hub Microsoft has long envisioned.
We’ll likely find out more about the Xbox 360 TV service in the next 12 months. Our bet is that we’ll hear more at E3 2011. Stay tuned.