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Microsoft TV very different to Apple and Google visions


Published: 13 October, 2011


For years we have been talking about different things. We have talked about Apple and Google trying to make their own TV experiences to compete with cable, offering their own TV channels and VoD selections. And we have been talking about Microsoft planning to achieve the same thing, despite Apple being unable to land rights to sufficient content. But it is now clear that these are very different things.

Google could take TV to every browser on the planet, Apple to a few hundred million Apple devices and Microsoft says it now has a deal to offer services from 50 suppliers - ten it already had and 40 new partners, to the 35 million Xbox Live accounts around the world.

But while the efforts of Google is to bring every piece of video on the internet to a single device and the efforts of Apple was to create Apple branded TV channels, Microsoft's aim is less radical.

It is saying that at least for the 35 million homes that have access to Xbox Live they will also have a second devices to access the TV Everywhere strategies of Pay TV companies. Okay there are a few subscriber deals in there, for Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu Plus, but most are for TV Everywhere deals at Bravo, Comcast, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the US, plus adds the BBC in the UK, Telefónica in Spain, Rogers in Canada, Televisa in Mexico, ZDF in Germany, and MediaSet in Italy.

While it is widely thought that Apple failed to create a rival for cable TV over the internet, Microsoft is set on becoming its friend. As we say one is revolutionary, the other is fairly easy and all these deals will roll out over the next few weeks - but amount to not very much.

Most of these players already work with Microsoft products to deliver to the PC, and in many cases use Microsoft originated or Microsoft approved video formats in their OTT plans, as well as its PlayReady DRM, it's just that some of that traffic will now be directed through the Xbox Live network.

One or two of these will take advantage of the Microsoft Kinect, a much loved part of the Xbox gadgetry, to offer voice and 3D gesture commands, but this is about beating up Sony Playstation, so that Xbox is the console with the most video offerings and little else.

This item has been extracted from a longer piece in our Faultline research service. Go to to get this week's issue in full.

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