You know what we’ve heard ad nauseam for the past few years? The future is in the living room. Every company with any technology chops or geek cred has been vying or positioning for the living room as if it is the holy grail of gadget marketing.
It is not. The living room as a market is highly overrated and is now in danger of being relegated to a sideshow niche as mobile devices rule in every category from entertainment to games to social networking.
The Mobile Living Room
Steve Jobs often talked about the need in technology to skate where the puck will be, not where it is, or where it’s been.
When it comes to the living room, name the technology companies that have had the most success?
Microsoft and Xbox? Nintendo and Wii? Sony and PlayStation? Or, your cable TV company? I’m going with what’s behind door #4, Monty because no one else has had much success at all in the living room. Except the cable TV company. And Apple. More on that in a moment.
What about Microsoft’s highly touted Xbox One? That’ll surely take over the living room, right? Nope. It’s too little and too late. The living room is on the move, going mobile, and Microsoft, at least the last time I looked, completely missed the mobile device train when it left the station.
Let’s look at Xbox One. Typical Microsoft. They name their third generation product One. And it’s truly a killer living room product. Which I figure will die in the living room, killed by the technology train that Microsoft decided to miss.
Xbox One Fails 5 Ways
First, Xbox One is three devices– Kinect, the box, and the handheld remote. While not apples to oranges, Apple’s view of the living room is all bundled into each mobile device, channeled through Apple TV, which makes Apple’s solution far more mobile and personal and easier to manage.
Second, Xbox One isn’t backwards compatible with anything except electricity. All those games you spent money on for Xbox 360 will gather dust, nostalgia, and remorse. Oh, and a spot on Ebay.
Third, like DVDs, Xbox One plans to lock down games to country-specific regulatory guidelines. That’s incredibly messy, but compare it to the free-for-all of handheld games ala iPhone and iPad, games that play pretty much everywhere except Heaven.
Fourth, ongoing costs of games and entertainment on Xbox One will need to compete with the few hundred thousand games and entertainment apps of iOS and Android mobile devices. Even great iOS games cost a few dollars and can be displayed on wide screen TVs anywhere. Can Xbox One games compete at that price level? No.
Finally, Apple has already shown us that the living room is a dinosaur, so it seems only fitting that Microsoft plans to make a stand there with arguably impressive technology which is anchored– or, mired– to the living room just at the time when every other modern tech company rolls out mobile devices which include games, entertainment, news and much more.
The boys at Redmond just never learn, do they? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him sit down and play an expensive game from a limited library, when being entertained and informed can ride from the television screen to your pocket in an instant.
The secret sauce that Apple is cooking up for the living room doesn’t have anything to do with a device or box to compete with Xbox One. Apple already owns the living room space and it’s mobile. Just a few pieces more need to fall into place for Apple TV and everyone with electricity, a widescreen TV, and an iTunes account will want one. It’s Apple that will bring the entire world of video, audio, games, information, entertainment to one location from many devices. The living room is valuable, but passé. Except for phasing out cable TV, Apple has already won.
One more thing. I came up with 5 Reasons You Won’t Buy An iWatch or iGlasses From Apple.