Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.
When Microsoft introduced the original Xbox, the company had a lot to prove. The console newcomer promised that it was laser-focused on building a great system for games. There wasn't much to distract it. In a time of DVDs and dial-up, "convergence" in the space was focused on the ability for consoles to play back movies rented at Blockbuster.
But everyone knew that the new kid on the box had an agenda beyond taking its share of industry profits away from Nintendo and Sony. Particularly versus the latter, Microsoft knew it would be engaged in a war for the living room and the future of digital entertainment distribution including, but beyond, games. Nothing came close to matching the processing power that consoles had brought to the living room, but no one had really cracked the broader application beyond disc-based games. It surely wasn't web browsing, as Nintendo and Sony had tried. Still, as streaming services from Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and others began to proliferate across lots of different add-on boxes, it made sense to add them onto Xbox Live (even if the programming wasn't) as well as the PlayStation Network.
Filed under: Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo