|Xbox One: Will Apple Strike Back?|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||May 22, 2013, 1:42 PM|
On Tuesday Microsoft unveiled the next generation of its Xbox – the Xbox One. The One though isn't just a gaming system as the Xbox has long been – it's an "all-in-one" entertainment system.
The new console integrates with a cable box, will have streaming video capabilities, and also original Xbox video content, including a Halo TV series made by Steven Spielberg. It promises to loop your cable box into the interactive Xbox experience, allowing you to channel surf via voice control and video chat while watching TV and movies.
The Xbox One will face the gaming competition from the likes of Nintendo and Sony when it comes out at the end of the year, but many have also been pointing out another competitor that has long been rumored to focus on cracking the living room tech problem: Apple.
"Steve Jobs' Dream Device Has Arrived, and It's Made by Microsoft" a headline on Slate reads. "Microsoft's new Xbox One is an Apple killer, the living room," Quartz wrote. "Did Microsoft Just Kick Apple Out of the Living Room?" Mashable asked.
Apple now sells Apple TV, a box which hooks up to a TV and allows users to download movies and TV shows from iTunes as well as stream video through services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. However, Apple has long been rumored to be building a more advanced Apple TV product, one that might actually be HDTV. It's the long-rumored iTV, as some have called it.
In Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs," the Apple founder told Issacson of his plans to crack the TV space. Isaacson quotes Jobs in the book: "'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' he told me. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"
Microsoft's Xbox One has some of those simple interface features. You can change the channel or navigate the interface by speaking aloud through voice control software or simply wave your hand to move through menus. You can also use a tablet or smartphone to control the interface on the TV.
Speculation about Apple TV has persisted for a long time, pointing to a late 2013 or early 2014 release. "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years," Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, said in December. "It's an area of intense interest. I can't say more than that."
Sure, Apple's future TV product is no more than rumors and illusions right now, but still the technology industry is bubbling about what the tech giant could do. "Apple is already in this space with media and Apple TV. They already have the software hooks to extend to games on Apple TV but I think they are struggling to get the experience where they want it," Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.
What Apple might have from the media and software end, it might lack in the gaming realm against the big players like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. However, analysts point to Apple's hugely popular gaming devices out right now: the iPhone and iPad.
"Apple could have a real advantage here mainly because of their scale and penetration," Brain Blau, Research Director of Consumer Technology at Gartner, told ABC News. While Blau said he couldn't speculate too much on what Apple would do in the game space, he did suggest some natural extensions.
"Apple already has the Game Center, so they already have relationships with many game developers but so far this is their only real effort in the game industry. iOS itself brought many more game developers and game players into the game market, so they could do the same thing again if they enabled, for example, a core game capability on Apple TV," he said. Apple also has updated its iOS and Mac devices with AirPlay, a feature that allows users to view their iOS or Mac software on the TV.
But like any possible Apple product, what the company plans to do remains a mystery and could remain one for quite awhile. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," Tim Cook said on a recent company earnings call. The team, he said, is working on "exciting new product categories."
Apple declined to comment when ABC News asked about the speculation surrounding its television plans.