Is the world ready for Microsoft TV?

Reports this week claim that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is working on a digital television initiative, perhaps culminating in the dream option of cherry-picking cable channels that are delivered digitally.

Right off the bat, it's easy to assume that this will never work. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google aren't setting the world on fire with their recent TV introductions. How can Mr. Softy stand a chance?

Microsoft often follows Apple and Google, and not necessarily well. It's making a push for Google in search. It has tried to make its Zune relevant in an iPod world. It has also taken both on in mobile platforms.

Microsoft TV would be a challenge, even if it builds it on the back of the already thriving Xbox Live community. Cable networks are unlikely to go the piecemeal route, since audiences and revenue will dwindle. More importantly, Microsoft has come up short in areas where Apple and Google have succeeded, so why should it succeed in a digital niche where Apple and Google are struggling?

You can't fault the tech giant for trying, but don't wait up for Microsoft TV.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • China Finance Online (Nasdaq: JRJC) posted a 29% spike in premium subscribers over the past year, but revenue at the provider of stock-market research for individual investors in China declined slightly in its latest quarter. This accounts for 82% of its revenue mix, so one has to assume that subscribers are paying less than they used to.
  • Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) has crossed the 20 million mark in subscribers. You still don't think satellite radio is a fad, do you?
  • Shares of Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) took a hit after announcing a $1.1 billion debt offering. I realize that investors are avoiding leveraged companies, but have you seen the interest rates available on corporate debt these days?
  • eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) is buying, a website that works with local retailers to provide real-time availability and prices. It's a new-media way to promote old school retailing.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google and China Finance Online are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Apple and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay and a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.