Microsoft’s TV-On-Xbox Service Might Be A Big Snooze (MSFT)

June 3, 2011

ATT U-Verse

ATT’s U-Verse, based on Microsoft’s Mediaroom technology.

Image: ATT

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Tech blogs are a-flitter with speculation about Microsoft’s big E3 announcement next Monday, with WinRumors reporting that the company will announce a new subscription TV service called Xbox Live Diamond.

The service, which was code-named Orapa, reportedly combines Microsoft’s Mediaroom IPTV service with Xbox Live.

So what does that mean?

At least one person has tweeted that Orapa is simply a new Mediaroom client for Xbox.

If so, this is minor stuff. Why?

  • Mediaroom is NOT TV over the Internet. It’s a way for telephone companies to deliver TV signals over dedicated IP networks. It’s nice for telcos because it gives them a way to compete with cable companies, who are cutting into their voice business. But you can only get Mediaroom if you kick your current TV provider to the curb and sign up with a company that provides the service in your area. In the U.S., that means ATT U-Verse. (Which isn’t even available in either of my last two neighborhoods in Seattle or San Francisco — check here to see if you can get it.)
  • Mediaroom has gotten very little traction. Microsoft has been flogging IPTV since 2003 (it was renamed Mediaroom in 2007). ATT is its main U.S. customer, and last reported only 2 million subscribers to U-Verse — back in December 2009. Worldwide, Mediaroom has a much smaller installed base than Xbox 360 — which has more than 55 million consoles out there.
  • Microsoft has been talking about this for YEARS. Microsoft first announced that the Xbox 360 would serve as a Mediaroom receiver back in 2007, and ATT was supposed to support it by the end of 2010.

Orapa might some interesting new features like support for Xbox Live avatars and Kinect, and integrated billing with Xbox Live. That’s all cool.

But if it requires users to change TV providers — if it doesn’t work with the cable providers like Comcast and Time-Warner that most Americans use today — it probably won’t make a dent.

It’s possible that Microsoft has much bigger ambitions here. Maybe it will actually BECOME a Mediaroom TV provider, delivering the service through Xbox Live. That would be huge.

There might be other interesting announcements as well, like a new type of device that is focused exclusively on audio and video (like Xbox minus the games), or new exclusive video content for Xbox Live.

But don’t count on it until we hear what Microsoft actually has to say on Monday.

Article source: SAI


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