Nilay Patel, journalist for The Verge, spent some quality time with Microsoft's Xbox team regarding their new Xbox One which is set to hit shelves very very soon. One of the coolest things Xbox does is integrate everything you might use on your TV (gaming system, Hulu, Netflix, Cable subscription) into one input. Unfortunately, in order to integrate your cable subscription they did not partner with a company and rewrite what could be markedly better software for the DVR, the interface simply sits on top:
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is exactly the same system implemented by Google’s ill-fated Google TV project, which launched to great fanfare in 2010 and has been slowly dying ever since. It’s also the same trick used by Microsoft’s own WebTV platform, which launched to similarly great fanfare in 1996 and painfully lingered on until finally being killed earlier this year. Hacking your own interface on top of the cable box is a great idea in theory, but history suggests different results in practice. I am not shy about expressing my doubts that the Xbox One will fare any better while I’m in Redmond:
Henshaw: We’ve built a really cool technology into Kinect itself, where it is emitting the IR codes…
Nilay: It’s not a really cool technology.
Henshaw: It’s a super cool technology.
Nilay: It’s a super old technology.
Yet my persistent criticism doesn’t seem to faze the Xbox team. If a somewhat clunky TV integration is the price of being the primary interface in people’s living rooms, they’re surprisingly enthusiastic about paying it. "Our goal is to work with what people have today," says Henshaw. "We love Comcast, we love DirecTV, we love Time Warner, we love them all." Whitten agrees. "I actually think those guys do a good job," he says. "I want people to continue to have a relationship with their cable provider. I think that’s a great thing."
This is wrongheaded in every way. The Xbox One might be successful for gaming and voice innovation alone, but it will not change the way TV is provided. In the Verge's well done video that accompanies this piece, one of the executives says that you "can't expect someone to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to replace all of their boxes."
I think you can. And should. The company that does that and does it really well will fully disrupt the TV market and start a revolution. The Xbox One looks cool, but still serves as a cop out--much like how they integrated the old Windows interface with the new Windows 8 interface.