Monday, December 11, 2006

XBOX - What's missing

Why oh why oh why do large corporations like Microsoft think that they can corner every generation of consumer into buying more and more unnecessary stuff from them. Take the XBOX 360; a great device IMHO, ahead of it's time and good value for money. However, in the adverts it says "stream pictures, music and video from your PC to your XBOX 360", at last I thought, convergence, or in other words I don't need a mountain of black boxes under my telly to watch and/or listen to hetrogeneous media-content. What isn't so clear in the ads is that this is only really possible if your PC has Windows Media Edition OS, Media player software and the videos that you want to see are encoded in WMV format, all proprietary Microsoft things.

Now this is all very predictable and I'm sure forces people to look at alternative solutions to do this same job more flexibly. I think my requirement is simple and obvious, i.e. I want a device that can have *any* content streamed to it (given appropriate codec's etc.) regardless of which particular "flavour" of operating system I have or what gizmo's I happen to have installed on it. If XBOX 360 did this then I feel sure that they would sell even more bucket loads to people like me who want "real world" flexibility and don't have the time to sit and encode all their video into WMV format!

Then there is the WEB; sure the XBOX has a network socket and connectivity to the internet; but surprise, surprise you can only access Microsoft sites (XBOX Live service); no browser. Now if they were *really* smart and *really* wanted to dominate the market then they would be selling to kids who want to watch YouTube directly on their TV's via their XBOX, record things, download things, play games, in short, face up to it Microsoft the XBOX is a PC in a shiny box, why not just go with it, people want convergence and if this device doesn't deliver that then they will go out and buy something else that does, like Apple iTV (although I'm sure that is just another piece of proprietary nonsense as well).

You have to believe that this is all just some cunning marketing ploy to flog us some new XBOX "Advanced" later on that has these silly limitations removed (probably via software) and I know I'm being commercially naive to some degree but how many times have we been here before and how many consumers have to be frustrated before the penny drops - if you don't supply products that do what clients want, then your competitors will, let's be honest it's not as if the kit is not capable enough.