Xbox 360, Bell Canada and video delivery through the Internet

The Xbox 360 certainly has the technical capacity to become the world’s most popular set top box. Video content could be streamed live from the Internet, or could be downloaded from a DSL or cable Internet connection, stored on the local hard disk, and then played as desired.

I looked back at an interview Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave back last Spring and its evident that Microsoft has also thought about this. Could the Xbox be the thing that allows the telcos, or even Microsoft itself, to dramatically change how video is delivered? Such a service doesn’t have to displace traditional cable/satellite service, it could start by grabbing the high value premium channels such as foreign language programs. Why spend a lot of money developing a new hardware platform like Akimbo when getting into the game could be done by simply writing an Xbox application and leveraging the millions of Xboxes are being sold by Microsoft (according to some speculation, probably below cost).

Engadget Interview – May 18, 2005:

… you take the IP TV work we’re doing, and that technology can run on a PC, on a set top box, it can run on an Xbox. So there will be, in conjunction with the work we do with the video delivery companies, particularly the telcos, who have tended to be our strongest customers for our IPTV stuff, there will be yet another way to acquire and use video content. So you have set tops, you have the set top experience, you have the Xbox, you’ve got a big hard disk, you’ve got networked to the PC in the home, so I think there will be a lot of ways to get that media onto the Xbox.

Is there a plan for people to be able to purchase TV shows or movies via their Xbox even if they don’t have a Media Center PC?

Right now we’re working hard with a number of partners, like SBC, like Bell Canada, a number of others, to get IPTV to critical mass. As IPTV gets to critical mass, you will find that those partners are anxious to have as many people monetizing their investment as possible , and the Xbox community will be one of them.

They’re looking at Xbox as a distribution channel?

I think so, we’re certainly talking to them about all of these things. Until there is some real business deal to announce I won’t announce it, but we’re set up technoliogcally, but it does require some sort kind of business relationship.