Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Microsoft’s Sneaky Success: The Xbox Is the Most Popular Video Player in the U.S.

More evidence that Microsoft is increasing its lead in the digital living room race: Data that shows its Xbox gaming console is the most popular non-PC device to watch Web video.

That is, more people are watching Web stuff on Microsoft’s machine than on the iPad, iPhone or any Android machine, anywhere. And when it comes to home viewing, competitors like Apple TV, Google TV and Roku are so far behind they’re not even competitors.

This data comes from Freewheel, an online video ad company, and it comes with caveats. We’ll get to those below. But first, take a look:

Now the asterisks: Freewheel is only measuring “professional content” that runs with ads, because that’s how it makes its living. So that means it’s counting stuff from companies like NBC, CBS, ESPN and Vevo, but not YouTube cat videos. It’s also not measuring Netflix usage. On the other hand, this isn’t a poll or sample, but data compiled by the company’s own ad servers.

So it’s possible there’s some variance here with the larger Web video world, but it seems reasonable to assume that this is at least directionally correct. At the very least, it gives credence to Microsoft’s claim that Xbox users are spending more time watching videos on the machines than playing games, and that its deals with conventional TV programmers may be bearing fruit.

And it shows you how much ground Google will need to make up as it gets ready to relaunch its Google TV. Ditto for Apple, if and when it ever gets serious about transforming Apple TV into something other than a “hobby.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work