As of late, we’ve been hearing a lot about a possible Apple television. The latest rumors suggest the set will launch late next year or in early 2013, and could offer access to apps and iCloud, among several other features. As I noted on these pages recently, I’m excited by the prospect of an Apple television, and I can say without any doubt that I will be first in line to buy the set if and when it launches.
But what if Apple isn’t the only company thinking seriously about getting into the television space? What if Microsoft, armed with its Kinect motion peripheral, tries its luck at taking on Vizio, Samsung, and all other vendors in the TV space?
I don’t think it’s as far-fetched as some might believe. After all, Microsoft is having real success in the living room, thanks to the Xbox 360. And based on its recent announcement of a commercial SDK launching early next year, I think the company is getting serious about trying to get all it can out of the device.
On the television side, Microsoft is making its intentions very clearly known. The Xbox 360 is quickly becoming a destination for those who want to watch television programming. Combine that with the Kinect, which is being used across the Xbox 360’s applications in addition to gaming, and it quickly becomes clear that Microsoft doesn’t necessarily believe that its motion peripheral should be locked to games. Quite the contrary, I think Microsoft wants to see Kinect break out from its gaming roots to expand into every form of entertainment.
At the same time, Kinect is just the first step in Microsoft’s motion plans. Right now, it’s a standalone accessory that needs to be connected to the Xbox 360 to work. But as Microsoft continues to improve the device, what would stop the software giant from integrating it into other devices, like the Xbox 720 or a television?
"A Microsoft television could be an extremely compelling device"
The way I see it, a Microsoft television could be an extremely compelling device. If Microsoft doubles down on Kinect the way it should, it can include its many functions to help users control their televisions in unique new ways. I can see myself tossing my arm back and forth to change channels, giving a signal to increase the volume, or saying “mute” to turn off the sound.
And just in case I did need a remote to control the television when there’s a bunch of people in the room, Microsoft could, of course, bundle that, as well.
If Microsoft sells a television to compete against an Apple set, inevitably, a debate over which TV is better than the other will come up. Will Microsoft’s Kinect-enabled set take the day or will Apple’s Siri- and App-focused television win out? But perhaps a better question is, why does one side have to lose?
The way I see it, if both companies can use the technologies they already have and try to trump all other TV vendors in terms of video and audio quality, neither side can lose.
Simply put, the future might be bright for the TV market — if, that is, Apple and Microsoft try their luck in that space.