Can Microsoft outdo Apple's Siri?

Microsoft details its Xbox 360 Live TV offering, which includes Bing-powered voice control.

By Motley Fool Pick of the Day Dec 6, 2011 4:30PM
By Evan Niu


Apple (AAPL) is coming out with a TV. Sony (SNE) is trying to beat Cupertino to the punch. Google (GOOG) is preparing for a living-room war. Enter Microsoft (MSFT). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)


The Redmond giant quietly set the stage a few months ago by bringing a gaggle of Verizon FiOS channels to the Xbox 360 alongside content partners such as Comcast and Time Warner. Microsoft has now gone official with its plans with a press release ambitiously titled "The Future of TV Begins Now on Xbox 360."


Unsurprisingly, the push will include Siri-esque voice-control through the Kinect. Microsoft hopes to leverage its existing installed base of more than 57 million people and converting the Xbox into a one-stop shop for content and entertainment. While Mr. Softy's initiative isn't new, it's becoming fleshed out.


The press release compiles all the content partners that Microsoft has been gathering recently, including on-demand services such as Hulu, Netflix (NFLX) , and's "Netflix of Europe," LOVEFiLM. Those services should be available starting today, along with Disney's ESPN.


Later this month, Xbox owners can look forward to other live TV services such as Verizon FiOS. YouTube is naturally a requisite, while Wal-Mart's Vudu and Sony's Crackle both made the cut. Comcast Xfinity on Demand is in store for early 2012, as is the U.K.'s BBC and Time Warner's HBO.


The important thing to consider is whom Microsoft is actually coming after. The company isn't trying to promote any cord-cutting. For example, to get FiOS channels, customers must subscribe to both FiOS TV and Internet service along with Xbox Live Gold. The content partners will ensure that the service is a complement rather than a substitute.


Netflix is already popular on game consoles, with half of subscribers connecting through consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so Netflix has nothing to worry about here.


So who stands to lose? Existing set-top box providers such as Cisco (CSCO) and Motorola Mobility (MMI) may soon find their dusty units obsolete. You also have smaller Web-based boxes such as the Roku and current Apple TV that become less compelling.


Fellow fool Patrick Martin is bullish on Mr. Softy's TV aspirations. The most exciting part of the announcement is the promise of Bing-powered voice control, while the rest is simply evolving the Xbox's feature set. When it comes to the task of revolutionizing the interface, experience, and interaction of TVs, I still think that's a job for Apple.


Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of, Walt Disney, and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart Stores, Cisco Systems, and Apple and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Walt Disney, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Google, Wal-Mart Stores, Netflix, and, creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores, and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range

Dec 6, 2011 6:28PM
Smile Microsoft bought Tell Me to include voice recognition and synthesized speech in all forms of products. That's includes business intelligence, Kinect,  smart phones, tablets, Xbox and many other  products. I'm sure Apple intends to do the same with Siri except they don't have anything like Kinect or Xbox.
Dec 6, 2011 8:44PM
Why would you call Kinect Siri-esque, when it came out a year earlier than Siri?  MS gets a bad wrap for lack of innovation, and maybe rightly so, but in this case Siri is clearly trying to be Kinect-ish. Smile
Dec 6, 2011 11:14PM
They have buy in from the major players, so I suspect the means ZERO play for many others, if I am thinking correctly here.

What they have to win is very clear. Leadership in NexGen gaming/set top boxes to come in the near future. If they integrate XBOX xSeries boxes into your cable box it will give the cable providers another source of income they cannot control solo.

Think basics here - XBOX, order Papa John's. Now who profits from such an XBOX application when its tied into your services?

XBOX, video call Aunt XYZ

XBOX, conference video call XYZ and ABC

XBOX, how do I ????

In the future I don't think its beyond realistic to tie robotic services into XBOX Kinect. We won't even discuss the scary XXX industry that will surely thrive around some camera and STRANGE devices sure to follow.

I always have advanced ideas, perhaps someday I can make millions off them. Hopefully Microsoft allows us to teach XBOX and profile to in customized ways we we want it to interact with us. Giving it a name might be a good start versus XBOX... Perhaps Microsoft will smarten up and allow us to give XBOX more personality.

Dec 7, 2011 7:58AM
MS has Balmer which has proven to be a real handicap in moving forward.
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