14 April 2008

Xbox LIVE, AOL and the Changing Face of the Internet

And so today brings us news that intrepid geeks have found a way to trick BBC's iPlayer into working on the PS3 - to many a shout of "about bloody time someone did, damned Auntie". And what does this say about the state of the internet. Many would say not much. I say a lot.

As Sony and Microsoft rush to tell us their PLAYSTATION 3 and Xbox 360 are the place for entertainment, the place for internet features...Wii beat them both to the punch by simple virtue of being more friendly. Wii scored a major coup in being the first "Living Room Platform" other than the failed Windows Media Center Standard to get iPlayer support.

But why the Wii you ask? Simple. Microsoft, to address them first, wanted the content, but not the brand. Yes, they want their customers to be able to access iPlayer, but they want it to be called Xbox Media Stream or some such nonsense name as they come up with arbitrarily. BBC said no, Microsoft wouldn't do the deal.

And that kills iPlayer's chances on Xbox LIVE for the time being. Because Xbox LIVE is a subscription based, gated community web service. Does that sound familiar? It ought to.

Exhibit A, the world's foremost dead-in-the water internet boom company. America Online, Inc. AOL's entire business model was a subscription based, gated community web service. Yes, Microsoft has more strings to its bow, as does Xbox alone, but the fact is: Xbox LIVE is AOL.

What then of Sony, with their "open" free web system? Open my ass. iPlayer isn't officially on PS3 because Sony don't want to do the deal. They won't let the BBC open the service to their customers as it stands for arbritary technical reasons.

What the real reason is? I don't know. But face it, it can't be very good.

But Nintendo? BBC said "hey, we have this iPlayer, it's pretty popular...". Nintendo said "What's that Flash? Use 7 and we're there".

Then they got even chummier "if you want, we can work on a Wii Channel for your service, I think our customers would love an iPlayer Channel, our competitors would hate it and it's a good use of our downloadable software platform."

Auntie was like "Hell to the yes."

Nitendo? Totally Firefox (Well, Mozilla).

So who does that make Sony in this second internet war?

Arbitrary technical blocks on service customers want for purely political reasons? Come on, you know this.

They're being Microsoft.

To summarise:

Microsoft's Xbox LIVE: America Online, Inc.'s AOL
Sony's PLAYSTATION Network: Microsoft Web Services (Comprising Internet Explorer, MSN Group etc.)
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection/WiiConnect24: Mozilla (/Firefox)

Jens Out

No comments: