The battle for control of the lounge room has finally begun with Microsoft releasing at CES2008 its impressive IPTV service embedded in its game console Xbox 360 powered by its Mediaroom software. The first market for release is set to be England after Microsoft struck a deal with BT Vision to use the game console as its principle in room device.
Showing just how seriously Microsoft is seeking dominance in the TV space, the software giant also announced its DVR Anywhere product, which enables the Mediaroom program to stream content to different set-top boxes around the house. The application allows a show to be paused and resumed in another room and centralizes content storage, giving each box the same access to all shows.
Connecting the world's TVs to the Internet remains the one great unconquered frontier with vendors desperate to be the device of choice as an expected 160 million TVs connect up to the Internet over the next four years. The battle for the lounge room is predicted to be played out between the CE set top box vendors, the game console manufacturers and the media PC players, with the game console sector likely to dominate because of the bundling of a gaming platform and IPTV functionality and the already embedded consumer base.
Microsoft announced its Xbox/IPTV integration this time last year and was pipped by Sony in October when Sony deployed its PlayStation console with an IPTV interface in South Korea, for the local incumbent telco's high definition service, called Mega TV.
Microsoft is playing in all three platforms with its Mediaroom software and with TV manufacturers finally equipping TV's with an internet port the race is now on between for who will become the device of choice. Apple's iPod juggernaut is a reminder how possible it is to dominate delivery of a media, once consumers get an easy to use device they like.
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