Following last week's news that Xbox Live members broke the record of hours logged for a week, with 442 million from November 6th through 13th, some rumors leave the Redmond office this week. If the rumors are true, it would surely put any doubt to rest that Xbox really is synonymous with entertainment. Word on the street is that there is an Xbox TV coming, that would directly compete with traditional set-top boxes, as well as the Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box and others. Sources say that it will be a watered-down iteration of the existing Xbox 360 that would be completely designed with a focus to play all types of media using the same frame that Windows 8 operates on. If all goes according to plan, reports are saying we should see the Xbox TV hit stores right before holiday 2013, along with the Xbox 3, or whatever you'd like to call it.
Putting aside if a year from now is too little, too late for Microsoft, moving into this space makes sense. Xbox Live already delivers a ton of content, and now with the addition of Windows 8/Windows Phone 8, your Windows experience is able to be carried from your PC, to your gaming console, to your smartphone. While SmartGlass may enhance the second-screen experience for movies and TV shows on the 360, it doesn't really replace your existing cable or satellite subscription. Xbox TV could be the thing that allows consumers to finally have their entire digital life revolve around Microsoft manufactured-products.
I'd also like to point out a rather interesting thing we're expecting to see in the next family of Xbox's. It appears that the next-gen Microsoft systems will be "always on," in that the company will be including a chipset that will allow fast startup times, as well as the ability to come out of sleep mode in an instant to allow users to access their TV and other media content as quick as possible.
Microsoft was asked to comment on plans for an Xbox TV or set-top box, to which they replied,
Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention.
So now with that question not answered and out of the way, the only question is how much would Microsoft charge for Xbox TV? Google and Apple have both priced their boxes at $99, while Roku and Boxee play around in the $79 to $129 range depending on the day. Because of this, it would be natural for Microsoft to not overprice their product, especially against Apple. All I know for now is that the rumor mill is spinning and if this comes true, I'd love to cut my cord and go the way of Xbox TV, as Xbox Live already lets FiOS, Comcast and U-Verse customers connect to their entertainment without the need for another box in the living room.