Microsoft’s new Xbox One is an Apple killer, in the living room

May 21, 2013
May 21, 2013

Microsoft today unveiled the Xbox One, the third generation of its popular gaming console and the first significant hardware upgrade since 2005. With it, Microsoft continues a quest to be king of the living room and remains, at least in this market, a more innovative and successful company than Apple.

The new console has more storage, a faster processor, and more powerful graphics capabilities. Those upgrades come while Microsoft already dominates its market, outselling Sony’s Playstation and  Nintendo’s Wii U every month for the last 28.

But like all Xboxes before it, the Xbox One is not just a gaming product. Microsoft said today that the Xbox team is on a “new mission” to create the perfect an all-in-one entertainment system. The Xbox One connects traditional broadcast and cinematic media with social media, gesture-based controls, and intelligent recommendations. (The Verge has a good roundup of all the new features.)

For Americans, at least, early every major video provider is already available on the Xbox system, from Amazon to YouTube. Verizon FiOs already allows subscribers to watch live TV through its Xbox 360 app. Comcast Xfinity TV subscribers can watch the service’s on-demand content, HBO has an app for its HBO Go service, and Netflix has a very popular app for Xbox, too. Even content owned by Microsoft competitor Sony can be found through the Paramount Movies and Sony Pictures apps.

Apple TV, by contrast, only offers access to eight services, and all of them are also available on Xbox.

With the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft is adding a partnership with the National Football League to provide live broadcasts paired with fantasy league statistics. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during the announcement that “there’s no one better” than Microsoft in interactive entertainment.

Microsoft has sold 77.2 million Xbox 360s since 2005. In April, it reported $641 million in quarterly revenue from the system. Apple TV sales are not regularly disclosed but have been estimated to be much lower.

When the remote that shipped with Apple TV was first announced in 2005, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs said it “captures what Apple is all about,” because it only had six buttons compared to the Windows Media Center remote, which had more than 40.

With its Xbox Kinect system, released in 2010 as a peripheral for the console, Microsoft dispensed with the remote control entirely. The Xbox One can be controlled simply through voice commands and body gestures. The Apple remote still has six buttons.

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