"What? We can't charge for the BBC iplayer on 360?....EXTERMINATE!"

Its being reported that the BBC iPlayer hit an all time high for viewers over the Xmas period.  It is being reported that over 100 million views of different shows were demanded by UK users during December.  What were they watching? It appears Dr Who was the most popular as well as Gavin and Stacey along with viewers wanting to tune into Terry Wogan’s last broadcast.

The increased popularity of the iPlayer service is also seen in the console market, with Nintendo and Sony users both demanding bandwidth to catch up on their favorite shows.  But what of Microsoft?

What of Microsoft indeed.  It is reported that talks between the BBC and Microsoft have hit a stalemate with sources close to the BBC reporting that:

Microsoft only wants to offer its users access to platforms it can charge for as this is the model it is pursuing. It wants to ensure that only those paying for Xbox Live Gold accounts can access its additional content services and even then there is usually a charge on top to get access to those. For example, to access the Sky Player on Xbox, you have to pay for a Gold subscription as well as a Sky subscription

Do it our way or not at all?  It certainly seems that way to me and whilst Nintendo and Sony users are apparently enjoying the benefits of the service, Microsoft customers are not so lucky as it appears Microsoft want to make a buck.  We had covered this before, but when looking at the Xbox 360 its hardware failures, the reports on build quality many have submitted on the net and add into that Microsoft putting its eggs into the HDDVD format (instead of Bluray) one has to wonder what its users make of it now?

When John was asked to try out Natal, he had something a little more advanced in mind. It would also appear that Microsoft thinks you should pay for free services. If you are a 360 user, who is the puppet and who is the puppet master?

Keeping in mind the innovate catalogue of Nintendo, the arguably better spec’d PS3 (and its BluRay) we also saw in the last week news of Microsoft Natal.  Whilst those who are Microsoft advocates are touting it as the biggest innovation since the wheel, at its fundamental level I think its a take on Nintendo products and also a worrying signal to 360 owners that you are stuck with that hardware for some time to come as Microsoft “ain’t upgrading it”  Also, does Microsoft think that Nintendo (and indeed Sony) are not developing their tech too?  We covered the issue of Microsoft tech in regards to “sensors” here.

Heres how some have received it over on T3.com:

wow what an invention. brilliant. well done microsoft. just a shame nintendo invented it and will be used for wii 2 in 2010….. – markster

Here’s what others say over on Gizmondo.com

I realize that I probably sound completely naive, but it’s kind of a shame that Microsoft isn’t scoring any points for originality anymore. Taking cues from OSX and putting them into Win7, making the Zune HD look exactly like the original iPhone, replicating the usage of the Wii… I don’t know, I realize that it’s human nature to copy and tweak, but when is MS going to come out with something original again?

and after the Plurk incident one could be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft has now gone a step further.

We then come across the issue of the people behind naming Microsoft products.  If the name Bing was not enough (for those that don’t know its dictionary definition is a heap or pile) then Natal doesn’t seem to be well received either:

What’s with all these weird names for new MS products? Project Natal? Is this supposed to make me think of pregnant women and if so, how does this relate to video games? And what’s up with that new search engine called “Bing”? Project Natal… Bing, Project Natal… Bing…

The question that I have to ask is, do the people who think of these names actually get paid?

And finally it seems the mighty Microsoft PR machine isn’t working for one user:

This isnt gonna work at all. Its obvious. I am seeing the eyetoy all over again.

All these comments (and more) can be seen here: http://gizmodo.com/5274319/xbox-360-project-natal-full+body-motion-control-one+ups-the-wii

Whilst Microsoft talks about Natal (and not so much about actually letting its users watch iplayer) Its competitors are talking about the next series of consoles. As early as April last year reports were on the net about the new WII console in development and you can read an article (if somewhat old now) on that here.

Is Microsoft out for the count?

Who knows, but what has been rumoured is a “new” 360 to be released in 2010 in conjunction with Natal.  The article quotes:

It’s not clear what sort of upgrades we might see, but some have suggested it will be a slight upgrade of the current Xbox 360 technology.

You can read that article here and draw your own conclusions, it is rather old and trying to predict what Microsoft will do next is something even Nostradamus would have trouble with.

So how did 360 perform this Xmas?

According to this report, not half as well as Nintendo.  I often make comment about Microsoft investing money into markets where its second best at the expense of its “traditional” products which also seem to be slipping away.  The report says that:

The Xbox 360 dropped from second place to third as consumers, excited by the release of the smaller PS3 Slim, took advantage of price cuts

and even COD 2 Modern Warfare (which sold 1.63 million units) couldn’t topple Super Mario Brothers which came in at 2.82 million, pushing COD2 on Xbox 360 to fourth place.  You can see that report here: http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/archives/191255.asp

So is Microsoft planning on sticking with its current 360 spec for a while longer?  Could this be because its yet to make a profit after the reportedly large return rate?  Who chose the name Natal? Who cares?  One thing is for sure, Microsoft cares and it will make sure you care too.  “Do it our way or not at all”?

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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