Microsoft's Xbox to sell music, goes mobile

Mon Jun 4, 2012 4:54pm EDT
 

By Liana B. Baker and Malathi Nayak

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp took another step toward its goal of turning the Xbox into the nexus of household entertainment, unveiling software to let users view extra content, control games and surf the Internet from their tablets and smartphones.

The software maker, whose market-leading Xbox already streams Netflix and ESPN and other channels, unveiled a "SmartGlass" application on Monday that links the console to mobile devices powered by Windows or Apple Inc's iOS and Google Inc's Android.

The U.S. software corporation has been trying for years to make a living-room entertainment hub of its Xbox, which has sold 67 million units since it launched in 2005. Now, the company is trying to expand the Xbox's entertainment menu and hook it up to "companion" mobile devices as a way to boost sales of its seven-year old console.

On Monday, it also announced Internet browsing will be made available on Xboxes, including through voice recognition in a nod to the popular "Siri" function on the newest iPhones. And it talked about plans to sell cloud-based music a la Apple's iTunes or Amazon.com Inc.

Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter deemed "SmartGlass" a nice feature -- especially how it turned devices into TV remotes -- but added it wasn't clear how essential it will become.

But having Internet Explorer on Xboxes will help Microsoft compete with a new generation of "smart" or Web-enabled TVs made by Samsung and others that let viewers stream content from online services such as YouTube.

"With an open browser, it's like you have a smart TV on an Xbox, which could mean you don't go out and buy a connected TV if you already have an Xbox at home," he said.

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Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer, Interactive Entertainment for Microsoft, introduces XBox Music at the Microsoft XBox news briefing during the E3 game expo in Los Angeles, California June 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser