Will Xbox SmartGlass Abolish Apple AirPlay?
Microsoft unveiled some promising new services today, both of which threaten a large number of companies -- including Apple.
During the company's press briefing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced the implementation of Xbox SmartGlass and Xbox Music, the latter of which will take on the likes of Spotify and Pandora (NYSE: P) by aiming to become the Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) of music. With more than 30 million songs already lined up for Xbox Music, Microsoft might have a fighting chance.
The other service, however, is where things really get interesting. In short, Xbox SmartGlass allows you to use any tablet or smartphone to interact with your Xbox 360, allowing handheld device users to interact with some games and send video from their tablets to their televisions.
This kind of cross-platform functionality is all but unprecedented. It opens the door for an unofficial Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Microsoft alliance without ever actually creating one. More significantly, it means that Microsoft is fully open to the notion that some users won't buy every little product the company makes, a reality Apple has fought against since the day the company was founded.
With Xbox SmartGlass, Microsoft is inviting every consumer to come aboard. While the Windows maker would prefer that consumers purchase a Windows 7 laptop from Sony (NYSE: SNE) or a Windows 8 tablet from Asus, it isn't attempting to discriminate against consumers who chose to buy a MacBook and/or an iPad instead. Granted, you won't be using a MacBook to interface with an Xbox anytime soon. But you can use an iPad or an iPhone.
At its E3 press conference, Microsoft also demonstrated how SmartGlass can be used to enhance the experience of playing Halo and Madden. This, along with new features for Kinect, the implementation of Internet Explorer on Xbox (which can be controlled with any smartphone -- including the iPhone), and an expanded database of video content, is giving Microsoft the chance to build a strong foundation for a "smart" TV experience long before Apple releases its first television.
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