RealMoney: Microsoft’s Xbox on-demand movies, TV shows a blow to Apple’s much-ballyhooed ‘iTV’

The news that “Microsoft will start offering on-demand movies and TV shows in high definition to be downloaded over any broadband Internet connection that I can then watch immediately on my TV, using a remote,” is “important,” according to’s Cody Willard.

MacDailyNews Take: That had better be a mighty long film you plan on watching “immediately,” Cody, because Microsoft has stated it would take “several hours” to download a single high def movie, so unless it’s over “several hours long,” you’re going to see it stop just a few minutes into the film. The Microsoft news is really only important in that it proves that content providers will deign to offer at least some hi-def programming for sale and/or rent.

Willard continues, “To be sure, there won’t be enough content immediately available for this offering to become a force before year-end. But the news is a blow to Apple’s much-ballyhooed, but not-yet-released, iTV platform, which won’t offer even DVD quality, much less HD. Apple’s iTV will probably eventually offer such quality, but I’m not sure that Apple is putting much emphasis on video quality in the near term, as evidenced by its current offerings, which aren’t even standard TV quality.

MacDailyNews Take: Did you know that Cody Willard regularly lunches with Steve Jobs and attends top secret product planning meetings, too? We didn’t either. Willard has no idea whatsoever what Apple’s plans are for iTV or the specifics of iTV’s capabilities. Nobody outside of Apple does. Apple’s current video offerings, by the way, are near-DVD quality at a resolution of 640×480, or better than standard TV quality. What are we supposed to do, take investment advice from a BS artist?

Willard continues, “That means suddenly Microsoft, with its Zune video and music player, its Xbox 360 HD downloads and its new Vista OS with video and voice-networking capabilities, just might find itself back in the driver’s seat.”

MacDailyNews Take: It means absolutely nothing of the sort. There aren’t enough Xbox’s out there with Xbox live subscribers (something like 2 million total) and Xbox’s puny 20GB hard drives that actually are out there are way too small to be useful – especially for HD content. Zune isn’t even out yet and it offers nothing compelling over iPod and is beaten by iPod in many areas (size, weight, UI, accessories, market penetration, jukebox software, iTunes Store, etc.). Windows Vista is a joke – it’s the same old Windows wretch with bright Mac OS X-inspired lipstick smeared all over its bloated ugly face. What the hell is Willard squawking about and why?

Willard continues, “How long before we start seeing people start to cancel their cable subscriptions? It’s coming sooner than you think. And in five or 10 years, we’ll be talking about how most youths don’t bother subscribing to cable, just as we talk today about how most don’t bother getting a voice landline.”

Full article here.

[UPDATE: 10:20am EST: For explanatory purpose, added “so unless it’s over ‘several hours long,’ you’re going to see it stop just a few minutes into the film” to “Take” above.]

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Aaron” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Now with that last bit, Willard brings up an interesting point. Once the quality and quantity get to a certain point, will it be more cost effective and/or efficient to just cancel cable? And what about live events like sports? Will live streaming via broadband really work well enough for large audiences? Just imagine the bandwidth for the Super Bowl. We have heard from a few MDN readers who have already replaced their monthly cable bill with iTunes TV shows. What do you think?

Steve Jobs gives sneak peek of Apple’s “iTV” wireless set-top box:

Steve Jobs begins talking about iTV in the QuickTime video of his presentation at the 52:25 mark here.

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Microsoft to sell TV shows, rent movies – some in high def – for Xbox starting Nov. 22 – November 07, 2006

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  1. The Superbowl will ALWAYS be avaiale VIA FREE over-the-air broad cast. in HD. So for all Cable shows you want to watch, and over the air shows you want to own, itunes and other broadband entertainment providers will sufice, and you will just get an antenna to watch network live TV.

  2. There are too many other things that cable offers that probably won’t be available on-demand, such as CNN, ESPN, MSNBC, FoxNews, etc. I don’t see cable going away. People will use their iTV or XBox or whatever for on-demand movies, but probably not for their regularly scheduled TV shows or for news. Also, get rid of cable and you lose the picture quality of shows. I can’t see people with 50 inch plasma screens using “rabbit ears”.

  3. Mac-Daddie-Oh, I thought the same thing at first, but then I understood MDN’s take. If it takes several hours to download a film and you begin watching it immediately, it had better be at least several hours long or else you will be to the end of the film before you have finished downloading it. Funny thought!

  4. First of all. Mr. Willard has no concept of video quality and resolution. He is comparing quality to size. For instance if Microsoft’s stuff is great because it’s HDTV, then he can’t say that Apple’s products aren’t TV or DVD quality, because resolution wise, they are. Compression-wise, they may not be DVD quality, but they are as good as most TV quality, and better than some. I have found the compression on digital satellite TV to be of worse quality than Apple’s TV programs.

    As for Microsoft and HD content, we don’t know the quality, and won’t know until we see it. It may be HD resolution, but the compression may be terrible (or good).

    Furthermore, it may take hours to download a movie. Can it be watched while downloading?

  5. Fsck this Cody guy. MS back in the driver’s seat? My ass! If this were to actually happen, the universe would implode out of sheer stupidity of the consumers buying this shit. Xbox Live? You’re going to see tens of millions of people buying Xboxes just for watching TV?

    MS never made a real dent with Windows Media Center. True, many use it, but it’s confusing and does not always work well. This is just another bunch of FUD this guy is trying to spread.

  6. The future is a convergence of “data” to a home which would include internet, voice, and video…essentially video will be a form of ipTV and on demand will be the norm. I feel we are witnessing the first steps towards this.

  7. The X-Box is for geeky spotty teenagers and this may just be a cool thing for them – though aren’t they exactly the people downloading torrents of films for free anyway?

    Apple Mac and iTV is for the rest of the world. As usual Microsoft barks up the wrong tree, and I look forward -again- to laughing at these ‘experts’ saying it has regained control. Dear oh dear.

    Microsoft will go down in history as a two trick pony -Office and Windows- that failed with every other venture it launched.

  8. Buffalo Turd Cody is at it again: Comparing a non-existent product/service (XBox + HD movies) to ANOTHER non-existent product/service (iTV) and then deciding which of the two vaporwares pleases him more. BRILLIANT! I wish I had thought of that!

  9. It comes down to quality — picture and sound quality.

    Hopefully the HD content is 1080i/p (really, hopefully the p variant).

    However, this poses a problem. The rumors I’ve heard over the past few days are that they intend to compress the entire content stream (video and audio) to less than 10Mbps and the goal is 8Mbps for HD content. The is pretty extreme compression. Even the HD DVD disks shipping to date using Microsoft’s VC-1 compression technology and lossy compressed audio are averaging more than 20 Mbps for the feature film on the HD DVD disks (some are as low as about 15Mbps and some are as high as about 28Mbps). So cramming this down 10Mbps or less is not going to look that great.

    Any way you look at it this has to light a fire under Apple’s butt.

    OK, Apple, MWSF in January better come out with something that is just plain awsome.

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