If Microsoft can’t charge for it, you don’t get it? – BBC iPlayer & Xmas woe?

"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

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.


13 thoughts on “If Microsoft can’t charge for it, you don’t get it? – BBC iPlayer & Xmas woe?

Add yours

  1. Yes, well, why should Microsoft provide anything for free?

    Actually I think what we are seeing is pressure on Microsoft’s profit margins caused by OpenOffice.Org and Netbooks. Microsoft is trying to maintain their historic margins, and doing so by ‘nickel and diming’ their customers. Unfortunately for them their competition isn’t doing the same, instead choosing to add value to their platforms. This makes Microsoft look cheap, and of course adds more compelling reasons to buy the Wii/PS3 instead of an XBox360. So the attempt to maintain margins will have a boomerang effect, damaging sales, instead of helping them.

  2. I think the PS3 took quite well this xmas (if reports are correct)

    If thats the case then the answer is twofold, firstly the drop in price and secondly IF we are to be sticking with this gen of spec’s for the next few years, then PS3 is probably better spec’d to do that.

    Ive heard that the PS3 is a devil to code for, however for the end user with its blueray that may be the tipping point for the position of “second console” in the home after a Wii.

    I do though think it outragous that MS want to charge for something that is not only free, but already available for its competitors users for nothing. Maybe an excellent example of why monopolies and lockin are so bad? One cannot just “do as you please” with 360, its MS’s way or not at all, there is no choice for Xbox users….

  3. Nice article Goblin! Couple of points in addition to yours, my understanding is the the PS3 games online are free, while Xboxlive requires a $50 to $60 fee every month? If this is so, and one wants that feature, then the Sony might be the better of the two, not even taking into count the failure rate of the Xbox360’s, which make it not an option.

    As far as the iplayer and MS, well, you know Gates and Ballmer need more money. Gates being the richest man on the planet, and Ballmer only having a small 12 to 14 billion worth. Translation is, MS is going squeeze and bleed Xbox360 users for every dime it can get from them. The screws are tightening on them, first the memory cards that were not made by M$ stopped working after updates, then M$ bricked consoles with mods, and now this about the BBC.

    Funny thing is about the bricked (network only) Xbox360’s, that M$ did. They supposedly only bricked them so then could not play on Xbox Live, which is a pay service. I wonder how many people will end buying those bricked units on ebay, craigslist, that would have paid MS that $50 to $60 a month, but cannot now? Is it possible, that M$ shot itself in the foot again, being too greedy?

  4. Thanks for the headsup! Having not used a 360 now for a long while (WII and PS3 favored in my house) Ive not really kept on top of all the latest Microsoft schemes.

    With the question of MS shooting itself in the foot, I think by MS proceeding with the console market (like it has any choice) its destroying the last bastion of salvation for its Windows platform (that being games)

    Did you dare to suggest Microsoft greedy? EXTERMINATE! 😉

  5. “…trying to predict what Microsoft will do next is something even Nostradamus would have trouble with.”

    Not really; Ask Ballmer: – “Copy Copy Copy Copy Copy Copy Copy”

  6. Hi!
    I think through alternatives, that point may be highlighted to many users now and why we see an increase in those alternatives today!


  7. Your website is loading quite slow for me. Might just be my isp but i am not sure… anyways informative post. Very helpful, thanks so much. Will be sure to bookmark your blog for future reference 🙂

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