Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Microsoft Sprints Ahead in the Race for the Living Room

If you’re placing bets on the “race to control the living room of the future,” it might make sense to wager on someone who’s already there. And who is solidifying that position every day: Six years after it introduced the Xbox 360, Microsoft is still moving a ton of the game units each month.

Specifically, it sold a record 1.7 million units in November, more than two times the competition from Nintendo and Sony. And while most of the people who are buying Xbox 360 game machines are using them to play games, Microsoft is being increasingly clear about its broader ambitions for the gadgets: As Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan puts it, these things are becoming cable set-top boxes.

That’s the upshot of the recent overhauls, which make it possible to control live and on-demand TV and Web video via its box. Which is exactly what Google has tried to do, with little success, and what everyone assumes Apple is going to try very soon.

It’s important to note, again, that Microsoft isn’t trying to work around the existing cable infrastructure — if you’re looking to cut your cord, the Xbox 360 won’t help you there. But if the game unit’s really big installed base — still growing! — does start using it as a video platform, then in short order Microsoft is going to have a whole lot of eyeball muscles to flex, if I can mix my metaphors. And then things could get very interesting.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald