E3 2011: Microsoft wants XBox 360 to be a television box without a remote
Monday morning at the Electronic Entertainment Expo video game conference, Microsoft showed off a new feature on its Xbox 360 console: remote-control-free television navigation. The demo showed the 360 console being used as a set-top box to watch live TV as well as to record programs via voice commands. It used Kinect, the voice- and motion-sensing accessory for the console that Microsoft launched last year.
In a follow-up interview, Michael Delman, head of global marketing for the company's video game division, said Microsoft is in talks with "more than 80" content provider, including cable and satellite television providers around the world. Subscribers would be able to access all of the networks they pay for through the Xbox 360.
Microsoft already has television partnerships for the Xbox 360 with Sky TV in Britain, Canal Plus in France and FoxTel in Australia. It has never offered TV in the U.S.
With an increasing number of televisions connecting directly to the Internet and more online video devices like the Apple TV, competition for real estate in the living room is becoming increasingly fierce. Microsoft is hoping its video game console can win that battle by evolving into an all-in-one entertainment device.
Other entertainment services have proved very popular on the Xbox 360, particularly Netflix streaming. Delman said that 40% of online activity on Microsoft's console is now entertainment activities other than playing video games.
Microsoft also announced that it will soon make YouTube videos available on the Xbox 360.
-- Ben Fritz
For the record: A previous version of this post said that Microsoft was talking with 80 cable and satellite providers. A company spokesman clarified that the figure also includes potential content partners.
Photo: A demonstration of online media features for the Xbox 360 console at Microsoft's press conference during E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles. Credit: Reicardo DeArtanha/Los Angeles Times.