Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Fight for Digital Home Front

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Fight for Digital Home Front

Article excerpt

Four main brand categories are vying to dominate the home-entertainment sector.

Staying in is the new going out, as consumers fight their way through the credit crunch. But while many sectors are suffering a fall in consumer spending, those eager to create the digital-entertainment hub for the 21st century look set to gain.

Xbox, for one, has its eye fixed on taking control of home entertainment. No longer content for Xbox to be 'just' a games console, last week Microsoft introduced New Xbox Experience.

New Xbox Experience is a free software upgrade for the Xbox 360 that highlights movies and other content downloadable via its online gaming and digital media platform, Xbox Live. Further services will be added, including interactive TV channel Xbox Live Primetime.

'The industry is moving toward video-on-demand-style services,' says Microsoft UK head of gaming and entertainment Stephen McGill. 'Consumer demand for a variety of content whenever and wherever they want is an established trend.'

Sony, too, offers a range of entertainment content to network-connected PlayStation3 users. Its Life with PlayStation platform includes Live Channel, a selection of news and information from around the world.

Games consoles, however, form just one of four main groups vying for control of digital home entertainment.

Microsoft is also a major player in the second of these groups: service providers offering content via broadband-connected set-top boxes. The Microsoft Media Centre acts like a PVR when connected to a TV, as well as allowing movies to be downloaded via broadband. Apple, meanwhile, has Apple TV, which enables users to download HD movies, music and podcasts from iTunes via a set-top box for listening to or viewing using their TV. Also occupying this space are BT Vision and Tiscali's HomeChoice.

Broadcast PVR set-top boxes such as Sky+ and Freeview Plus represent the third group of challengers.

The final group comprises the major players in the consumer electronics sector. Earlier this year, Panasonic unveiled VieraCast, an IPTV-enabled TV allowing users access to streamed content without having to connect to the internet via a PC.

However, there are key challenges to be addressed before the battle for digital home-entertainment dominance can be won, according to Ed Barton, games analyst at Screen Digest. …

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