I was talking with Microsoft about the XBOX 360 earlier this week, and one of the things they said will drive consumers to their console vs. the competition is the integration of multiple features into Live, such as Netflix streaming, gaming, and other content. At Current Analysis our Digital Home service covers game consoles from the perspective of connected services; we treat a PS3, XBOX, or Wii like the fancy set top boxes (that not coincidentally also play games) that they have become. However, I thought we were a bit ahead of the curve - most consumers haven't fully embraced this vision yet. But when FedEx dropped off yet another box here this afternoon, I started thinking: how on Earth am I going to connect this? Is Microsoft right - will consumers buy a game console to access digital services simply because they're out of HDMI inputs on their TV?
Now I know that my situation is not something everyone faces, but how many devices can a consumer reasonably connect to a TV or even a sophisticated A/V receiver? I'm not sure there are enough inputs any more - even on flagship receivers - to connect all the possible devices an early adopter/TV nut might want to. (Some of these offer redundant functionality, but even then there are typically unique functions that could justify their purchase.) Here's a sample list:
- TiVo HD (DVR and cable/OTA tuner, Netflix)
- Cable box (tuner and VOD, may have integrated DVR)
- Satellite Box (tuner, VOD, unique sports programming, may have integrated DVR)
- SlingBox (to stream content to PCs and mobile devices)
- SlingCatcher (to integrate PC content)
- XBOX 360 (some unique game titles, Netflix, DVD playback, streaming PC media)
- PlayStation 3 (some unique game titles, Blu-ray playback, DVD playback, streaming PC media)
- Wii (many unique game titles)
- DVD/Blu-ray player (if you don't have PS3)
- AppleTV (iTunes integration)
- Roku (for Netflix, but even if you have a TiVo HD or XBOX 360 with Live Gold which also offer Netflix, you still might want a Roku for Major League Baseball access)
I'm trying to integrate about eight or nine of those, and I'm not sure that there is a receiver on the planet that can handle more than about half that list.