Microsoft’s Xbox One sets sights on connected TV

Microsoft wants the forthcoming Xbox One, the company’s first games machine in eight years, to spearhead a new entertainment strategy designed to exploit the rise of second-screen viewing.

The Xbox One will be marketed as as an all-in-one entertainment platform.

The technology firm unveiled the device at a press event last night (21 May) to showcase its TV and music streaming capabilities.

It is being positioned as an all-in-one entertainment platform with users able to switch between live television, games and music through gestures or voice commands. Microsoft is hoping the device makes its Kinect movement sensor a more integral part of the user experience after launching it two years ago for the Xbox 360.

The console also incorporates Skype functionality and a Blu-ray drive. It will be promoted around its features rather than its games, in particular its increased integration of content services such as Netflix. Microsoft is also using the device to launch a new Steven Spielberg produced video series based on its top-selling Halo gaming franchise.

Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment business at Microsoft says the Xbox One is designed to “deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device”.

Fred Huet, managing partner at Greenwich Consulting, says the device is Microsoft’s “best attempt to enter the connected TV space” and predicted it would dedicate all of its TV resources into “making it a success”.

He adds: “The integration of voice and gesture control with social features and real-time sharing are crucial and create the opportunity for consumers to have a complete entertainment hub of which Xbox is the epicentre. If combined with exclusive video content and social channels, Microsoft stands in a prime position to capture valuable market gains in the increasingly competitive and profitable connected TV space.

“The Xbox One stands at the pinnacle of the evolving connected TV space but to succeed it must be ready to adapt to evolving customer demand, offering increased convenience, wider choice and enhanced control of media.”

Rival Sony opted for a similar strategy when it launched its Playstation 4 console earlier this year (20 February). Both companies have beefed up the entertainment features of their consoles in response to growing competition from games played on smartphones from the likes of Apple.

Consumers’ shifting attitudes toward online video and the rise of smart TVs have combined to create a new market for advertisers to reach potential customers. It is likely Microsoft will look to forge partnerships with brands such as Pizza Hut to build loyalty, in a similar way to those created around its Xbox 360 machine.

The Xbox One will go on sale later this year with 15 titles ranging from the latest updates to gaming series’ Forza Motorsport and Call of Duty to the new Quantum Break franchise.