Xbox Updates Its User Interface and Content, And We Don't Care

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MicrosoftMicrosoft is in the process of rolling out its fall Xbox 360 update, including the second major user interface overhaul since the system launched. This update does, primarily, two things. The update adds better voice control functionality and aims to add a slew of new video content providers. Read on to learn why we just don't care...
Let's start with the voice control. For some people, this is nice to have. If we at FI collectively lacked hands (or prehensile feet), this would be the best thing ever. As it is, we just don't care. The controller is comfortable, where shouting "Xbox - Bing - Breaking Bad" feels ridiculous and just generates even more branded search traffic for Microsoft's Bing. Besides, it doesn't work well in chaotic or loud environments (which tend to overlap with those times when you need hands-free control). The Kinect still hasn't presented enough compelling games to be a must-have accessory, so FI isn't impressed with a navigation scheme that relies on the Kinect. Yet.

A far bigger deal is the onslaught of entertainment options that are being added to the Xbox 360 for Gold subscribers. New content providers include AT&T U-verse, ESPN, Verizon FiOS TV, TMZ, HBO Go and BBC. A minor problem is that most of these platforms aren't making tomorrow's launch. Some won't be available until next year. So this is more like the beginning of a trickle rather than a flood of new content.

The reason we really don't care is that it's really hard to cut the cord. The press is full of talk of "cutting the cord," meaning that consumers will get rid of cable TV service and go exclusively with video content served through internet channels like Xbox Live. Here's the problem. Few consumers in the U.S. can purchase a decent internet connection that will support massive game downloads and high-definition streaming content without bundling it with some cable TV package. Without decent internet access (that isn't limited by cable companies with ulterior motives), most consumers just aren't going to "cut the cord." Besides, many of these channels assume that you've already subscribed to a premium service (such as that company's cable TV channel). So what does this massive flood of content get us that we don't already have through our cable box? The ability to control the TV by yelling at it (if you own a Kinect)? Color us unimpressed.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 5, 2011 8:58 PM.

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