This topic is so last century (as Steve points out). People always want to know ‘where’ Microsoft will move next. But, Microsoft has always been very transparent about its aspirations and vision: ‘A computer in every home and on every desk’. The key word is ‘computer’. Wherever the ‘computer’ goes, Microsoft will seek to go to provide commerical software to support them. Into the datacentre, on the road in phones, in cars and yes, in the living rooms with TVs and consoles.
TVs are interesting because (a) they are still underserved by software to enhance the experience (though DVRs have changed that a lot, there is still a lot of debate how much software which adds inter-ACTIVITY can enhance a largely passive, ie. inactive experience), and (b) they are a popular electronic device for the digital Late Majority (but if anything the GenX and GenY folks are watching less TV than ever).
Hugh had it right months ago. The interesting story is not about the ‘where’, it’s about the ‘how’, ie. Software+Services.
Sometimes I think that when TV 2.0 comes along, it actually won’t have any TV component in it. Just as “Horse 2.0” [i.e. the car] has no actual horses.
Having given this some thought over the last couple of days, I feel myself shifting my thinking away from “The Box”.
I’ve been using computers for twenty years or so. And all along, I’ve tended to think of computer in terms of “boxes”. A box on my desk [PC]. A box in the cloud [My dedicated server]. A box of music in my pocket [My iPod]. Another wee box to phone people with [my Nokia]. And when it comes to living room entertainment, we have boxes all over the place [TVs, stereos, DVD players etc.]. With clever little wires to link all these boxes up. A personal network of boxes, as it were.
It wasn’t until I saw the Microsoft Surface console in Paris that I really started started thinking [PLEASE excuse the pun] “Outside The Box”. Do we really need all these boxes? Or at least, do we really need so many of them? Perhaps the barriers that separate everyday objects from software are woefully artificial?
Apple is a company I really like. I own both a Macbook and an iPod. They do indeed make lovely boxes. But ever since I saw the Microsoft Surface, it’s where “The Box” ISN’T that has become so interesting to me.
[AFTERTHOUGHT:] “Ubiquitous Software Equals Ubiquitous Media.” Advertisers, take note.