Thursday, September 15, 2011

Can Microsoft change the trajectory of a glacier? Will “Xbox TV” change an industry that refuses to change?

Oh no! Not this old re-run again: “TV as we know it is about to change.”

I've been semi-following the dull world of the U.S. subscription television for the past decade or so: it’s the walled garden of walled gardens. It’s an industry that crawls forward for many reasons: after all, why should service providers such as cable operators mess with a good thing?

It’s not an easy industry to change. And there have been many attempts. Over the years, there have been some real good tries from companies such as Nokia, Apple, Google. But the business model is still more or less the same.

Today CNN is reporting that Microsoft will introduce something called “Xbox TV” later this year. The story is dry of detail, but it looks like Microsoft might give TV business a go. Perhaps with more focused content, TV on demand, great search.

There’s no doubt that there is room for such innovation. But Microsoft is going to meet the same resistance as the others.

To be fair, there have been some successful external forces affecting the market over the years. Devices like TiVo and services like Netflix have driven some serious re-thinking for operators. But when change can be successfully resisted, it is.

It’s easy enough to find consumer dissatisfaction: paying for 300 channels when you only watch five, an extra TV is an extra fee, big ugly boxes sucking up juice 24-7, long-term contracts with price jumps after 12 months.

So, can Microsoft win at the TV game? I’d be surprised. Let’s watch this one closely.

"TV is about to change." Promises, promises. Do you believe?

No comments: