Is the Xbox the new home theater appliance? The country's second-most-popular gaming console, behind Sony's
Come Nov. 22, Xbox Live subscribers will be able to stream shows and high-definition flicks from major studios like CBS
It's a brilliant plan on paper. Young, mostly male gaming audiences and episodes of SouthPark and Star Trek? Perfect. Then again, that same demographic group may pose some problems.
For starters, let's look at the method behind the madness of the four million current Xbox Live subscribers. Some are on the "silver" membership plan; it offers limited functionality, but it's absolutely free. They're unlikely to make for much of an audience, because the kind of gamer that isn't up to paying $7.99 a month -- or $49.99 a year -- for the more popular "gold" membership plan likely won't be paying up for bandwidth-hogging downloads, either.
The "gold" community would be a much more receptive audience -- they're already paying for online multiplayer capability, and opening that billfold wider still to snap up additional virtual items and games. But will they be interested in catching CSI, instead of playing Call of Duty 2 on Xbox Live?
Renting out high-def movies that take hours to download, and can only be viewed for a few days before they virtually disintegrate, isn't all that appealing, either. TV shows that gamers will be able to keep, at price points that are competitive with Apple's
I can't blame Xbox for giving it a shot. If Apple and Amazon.com
I just hope that Microsoft isn't overestimating the appetite for readily available content from an audience that prefers to roll its own. Unless Microsoft intends to package minigames or Xbox-specific interactive features into the offerings, this may be a more difficult digital path to cross than it thinks.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does own a 360, but that doesn't mean that he won't be in the market to square away a PS3 or a Wii this month. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He 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.