Beaten: Xbox Mini could give Apple TV a run for its money

Today, a lesson. Don’t leave blogs making predictions about tech in your drafts folder so long that the rumour mill of those ideas coming true catches up with you.

Looks like Microsoft is considering the Xbox Mini that I’d been toying with in the following post. See what you think…

-starts-

Console and set top box manufacturers have been keen to rush into the main position under your primary TV, but most have kept cards relatively close to their chest when it comes to companion devices.

A console manufacturer such as Microsoft could launch into this space and provide more than just the same streaming abilities you get with the competition. Think “Xbox Mini” — a device that lets you shuffle your gaming session to a screen in another room. it would add a whole different kind of value for Xbox owners over competing consoles.

The heavy duty act of processing graphics could still be handled by the main console, streaming the video output across your network OnLive-style. Meanwhile, this would be bolstered by multimedia streaming capabilities from current partnerships with Netflix, iPlayer, Lovefilm, Last.fm and more.

Like Apple’s AirPlay and other initiatives, Microsoft’s SmartGlass is the glue that makes it possible to send one device’s feed to another display. How many people currently stream media content from their Mac to an Apple TV? Now imagine if that possibility was opened to Windows users via an official Microsoft machine.

There are over 65m Xboxes in homes today, with 30m subscribers to Xbox Live connected to the internet, and Windows machines make up nearly 90 percent of the PC market. That’s an established user base familiar with both brands who could see real value connecting the two instead of the alternatives.

But ultimately, if they want to increase the odds of mainstream success, Microsoft may want to take a leaf out of Google’s book with the Nexus 7 pricing. Take a hit on the hardware and release Xbox Mini at £100, without need for the original console.

What you end up with is a device that may be hard for current Xbox owners to turn down and may attract new customers who want to stream content to multiple screens without locking themselves further into Apple’s ecosystem.

Will it ever happen? Maybe we’ll have to wait for the next generation of consoles to find out but if they’re not careful, Apple won’t hesitate to tie up the market first, as they’ve so keenly managed elsewhere before.

- Max Tatton-Brown

November 21st, 2012