Microsoft has known for a while that the trick to getting the Xbox 360 integrated into people’s living rooms is to load it with non-gaming features.
It’s a strategy that was worked well for the company. Family members that don’t like video games can still find plenty of other entertainment options on the console. Now, though, Sony is quickly following suit – and expanding on those features – which could give it an advantage as the industry prepares for a crucial holiday season.
Microsoft was the first game company to integrate Netflixstreaming onto its console – and is still the only one to do so from within the system’s dashboard. By mid-October, though, that will change.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced Thursday that he expected a disc-free streaming experience on the PlayStation 3 before the company’s next earnings call. (Currently, owners of the Sony device must insert a Netflix disc into the machine before they can stream a film.)
Beyond that, the PS3 is the only console that will offer Hulu Plusstreaming this year. (Microsoft will integrate the service in 2011.) And while that service is still in beta and does not have a noteworthy user base yet, Hulu has been one of the most requested additions to virtually any device that’s capable of streaming content.
“I think it’s a mandate with Sony not to just catch up with, but to surpass Microsoft, especially in the non-gaming functionality,” says Billy Pidgeon, senior analyst with M2 Research. “What’s at stake here is the future of Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, … We’re going to be seeing more houses where there are two or more consoles - and the battle will come down to where do (non-gaming) family members spend their time?”