The Xbox One is continuing its metamorphosis. It was initially launched as an all-around home entertainment center, and in reality it still is. What’s changed is the emphasis that has been placed on different features.
Where media entertainment and television integration were the first talking point announcing the Xbox One, they are now on the back burner. Gaming has taken its rightful place as the emphasis of Microsoft’s gaming console. At E3 Microsoft didn’t focus on anything related to cable television or media streaming, they focused on their library of games, and gaming features such as Xbox One backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360. And that’s smart of them to do, but that doesn’t mean the Xbox One isn’t a home entertainment system. In fact, it’s even more of one than when it was initially announced.
The emphasis is what’s different. Xbox chief of marketing Mike Nichols said this much back in June. More recently, Xbox chief Phil Spencer told the Verge “We probably have taken a little different approach than we did at launch. We've been thinking a lot about over-the-top and over-the-air content and how the aggregation of all your content in this un-bundled world that people seem to be living in.” He then later added “Whether I think I'm going to become an additive thing to your cable box... I'm not sure we have as much value to add there in the long run where I think about where the space is going.”
That doesn’t however mean that the Xbox One won’t be the center for home entertainment. The Xbox One still uses OneGuide to help users browse cable and over the air television. It’s still a streaming box. It’s even added Miracast support, digital TV tuners, and an app for Sling TV. Universal apps are coming to the Xbox One and many of those won’t have anything to do with gaming. Microsoft showed off the USA Today app for the Xbox One at a keynote recently. They displayed how easy it is to make a universal app run on the Xbox One and how news organizations can have their video content easily displayed through Microsoft’s console.
Spencer thinks the entertainment industry is moving away from cable being the 800 lbs gorilla in the room.” In a way it seems like the Xbox One is going to be more than Xbox One plus cable. It’s going to be the Xbox One plus cable, DVR, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, universal apps, OTA television, Sling TV, etc. A super streaming box that also plays games, streams games to PCs and may someday stream games from PCs.
In addition to all of the already available media content, there are rumors floating about that Microsoft may be announcing DVR features for the Xbox One. The Verge suggests that Microsoft may unveil entertainment features next week at Gamescom. Spencer told the Verge “I think there are natural features that you could see where an Xbox could do a god job helping, especially in a world where you have video sources from all over the place.”
The world of entertainment is changing. Many users have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and a myriad of other sources. To view all of their content many people have multiple devices such as tablets, phones, PCs, and streaming boxes. What Microsoft is positioning itself to have in the Xbox One is a single device that can stream movies, cable, OTA TV, games, and more, which is pretty much the theme of what the Xbox One was originally sold to us as.