Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Next gen consoles fuelling the Battle for the Living Room

It has been a while since I first wrote about the Battle for the Living Room and when I called out the three main players: Google, Apple and Microsoft.

We’ve just had Microsoft announce the Xbox One and now is the time to return to this slow burning but incredibly important tussle.

I do not believe the TV is the “first screen”. I don’t worry if I can’t check the TV. I don’t take my TV to work, on business trips, on holidays, to friends and my TV won’t interrupt me with news while I write this blog post. The mobile screen is the first screen.

TV, however, is the screen central to the Battle for the Living Room. The company who controls the living room isn’t just an entertainment giant. Is it as a company who will be able to exert significant influence on family budgets; holidays, Christmas and FMGC.

If there’s a runaway winner in the Battle for the Living Room then there will be a company who controls the last mile of all TV advertising. That’s why Google TV, to date, has failed. The cable companies in the States closed ranks and said “NO”.

Microsoft are now taking that gamble. Here’s a summary of the Xbox One announcement stream.



What’s missing from the clip above are the numerous references to E3. E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo and perhaps the biggest game gig of the year. Microsoft made it crystal clear that a lot of the game related news for the Xbox One would come out at E3.

I’m not sure gamers noticed. Sony was not silent yesterday either. They’ve been carefully pushing lots of teasers of their own. They’ve announced but not revealed the PS4.

The share prices of Microsoft and Sony today paint an interesting picture.





Sony’s shares have jumped. The people who tuned into the announcement yesterday are, like me, gamers. They’re worried about Microsoft’s focus. They’re worried that the Xbox One might harm second hand game playing. They’ve yet to see voice commands really work for a game.

I need to suppress the gamer in me in order to keep my focus on the Battle for the Living Room. Microsoft, I think, knows the risk it is taking by pushing the Xbox down the integrated route but I think it has to.

After all, how long can Microsoft keep on pumping money into gaming? They need to join the dots.

Here’s a recap on the runners:

Microsoft

Strengths: Xbox and Xbox Live, relationships with ad agencies, possible Windows Phone success
Weaknesses: Trouble with Windows 8 adoption, possible Windows Phone failure,

Google

Strengths: YouTube, Google+ integration, the Cloud, Android, Motorola, Google Fiber
Weaknesses: Google TV, hostile cable networks, brand positioning

Apple

Strengths: iOS, iTunes, Mobile
Weaknesses: Rocky relationships, Apple TV, investor pressure

There are other players, perhaps still supporting players, but worth looking at;

Sony

Strengths: PlayStation, Sony Entertainment Network, Mobile
Weaknesses: fragmented republic

Nintendo

Strengths: Wii U, content
Weaknesses: Also the Wii U, lack of mobile, lack of web

Samsung

Strengths: Scale and manufacturing ability, mobile, TV set marketshare
Weaknesses: Lacks content, Cloud

Liberty Global

Strengths: Europe, paid TV subscriptions, broadband lines
Weaknesses: Lacks content, brand awareness

Sky/News Corp

Strengths: Market share, content
Weaknesses: Brand positioning, mobile

The deals to watch are those from the three frontrunners and the supporting players. In particular, a deal between Sony and Google is juicy. The PS4 can concentrate on games, wooing in gamers and helping Sony gain vital ground in the console battle while a deal to turn every PS4 into a Google TV device (as once intended for the PS3) would then flank Microsoft’s gamble with TV and the Xbox One.

Equally, deals with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo would move the needle. It’s hard to imagine that the Xbox One won’t have tight Facebook integration. Microsoft are a shareholder.

Another flanking move to watch is Google Glasses. Glasses could be the best of both TV and mobile; easy to watch and private. However, Google is currently stressing that Glass is not for long form content.

blog comments powered by Disqus