Microsoft is latching onto its one reliably cool brand, Xbox, to gain a foothold in the next emerging arena in tech: TV.
Since 2001, the Xbox has been gaining a foothold in the living room thanks to millions of hard-core gamers attracted to series like “Halo” and “Call of Duty.”
The first Xbox console sold about 24 million units and introduced console gamers to online gaming.
The Xbox 360 has sold about 80 million units since its release in 2005. It’s still available in stores, and new games are still being made for it.
The Xbox 360 is Microsoft’s short-term response to the Apple TV, Amazon and others.
Since the introduction of Netflix in 2008, Microsoft has brought more than 60 services to the Xbox 360, including Amazon, Comcast’s Xfinity, and Hulu. That’s actually more than what’s available on either the Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV — a Piper Jaffray report released today notes that Apple offers content from 31 providers, whereas Amazon works with 41.
Microsoft has an Xbox 360 user base numbering in the tens of millions. Many of them pay subscriptions for Xbox Live, which lets them play with other gamers around the world and access content through the aforementioned services. These subscriptions cost $US60 per year.
With 3.5 million units sold in Microsoft’s most recent quarter, the Xbox 360 is holding its own in the living room while Microsoft ramps up the Xbox One.
The Xbox One is Microsoft’s long-term play.
Sales of the Xbox One weren’t mindblowing in February — they sold about 258,000 units — but the release of “Titanfall” last month is expected to have brought a big boost to the console. The few sales figures available suggest that total unit sales were just a hair over 4 million between November and the end of February.
There were a number of startups at Microsoft’s Build conference today that make Windows and Xbox apps for video-streaming services. One developer Business Insider spoke to said that there’s currently a wait to get apps approved on the Xbox One because Microsoft has been slow to approve new services in order to ensure quality.
Microsoft is hoping that a wide variety of video apps, the Kinect interface, and Windows PC apps will convince non-gamers to buy into the ~$449 Xbox One experience for their living room instead of a $US99 Apple TV. The stakes are high when you’re pushing the premium option — in this case, Microsoft has to prove that what it is offering is better than just a smart TV or set-top box. For now, there can’t be bad apps on the Xbox One.
Meanwhile, it continues to serve as a platform for blockbuster game titles like “Grand Theft Auto.” While Amazon is also offering games on the Fire TV, the Xbox One can output far more realistic, immersive graphics than anything Amazon or Apple’s hardware could produce, a deal breaker for drawing in big-budget titles.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.