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Microsoft is launching a new service on November 22 called Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Owners of the Xbox 360 gaming console will now be able to download movies and TV shows from the following media companies: CBS, MTV, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. Peter Moore, a Microsoft corporate VP, explained, “We look at the console as an entertainment amplifier for the living room.”
Microsoft hasn’t released prices yet but says they will be competitive with sites like Apple or CinemaNow (movies are around $3-$4 where TV shows are usually cheaper, around $2). Movies will be rental only while TV shows will be purchase only. Movie rentals will be for 24 hours. Microsoft
will also offer some movies/shows in high definition for a “slight premium.”
Microsoft is banking on the fact that Xbox consoles everywhere are already connected to televisions. With the popularity of YouTube, companies are scrambling to figure out how to take advantage of Internet-based video content. Do you users want their Internet video content on the computer? The TV? Both?
But there is a disadvantage to this strategy. When Microsoft released the Xbox 360 a year ago, the idea of storing huge amounts of video data was obviously not considered. Compared to most computers nowadays, the storage capacity of the Xbox 360 is fairly limited. The console can handle around 16 hours of standard-quality video but not even five hours of high-definition video. But Microsoft counters this disadvantage by explaining that users can delete TV shows to save space and then download them again later for free. And since movie content is rental only, they don’t take up space for longer than the 24 hours.
This is definitely a good move for Microsoft, even if storage capacity may become more of a problem down the road.