Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has never been solely about games — it’s been a way for Microsoft to move beyond the PC and into the living room to become a digital entertainment hub. During its E3 press conference today, Microsoft got a whole lot closer to that goal with the addition of a host of new features for Xbox Live including Twitter and Facebook integration, social viewing and instantly watchable 1080p HD movies. We watched the conference’s live-stream and grabbed these choice nuggets:
Xbox Live users will soon be able to connect to their Twitter accounts to post updates and check in on their Tweet stream through their televisions. The Facebook integration goes a bit further: You can find Facebook friends who are also Xbox Live members, share photos and status updates, and post screenshots of games to your Facebook accounts.
The social activity won’t end there — the Xbox Live Party lets you watch content with your friends online. From the brief demo, it looks like you and your friends’ avatars will meet up in a virtual theater to watch videos on a simulated screen.
And watching videos will get a whole lot better through the service. Microsoft is beefing up its Netflix integration, allowing users to browse the Watch Instantly queue directly from the TV, as well as play movies instantly without adding them to the queue at all. As we reported the other day, BSkyB is also integrating its programming to allow U.K. and Ireland members to watch live television from the network through the Xbox. And we knew the Zune Marketplace was coming to Xbox, but today Microsoft announced that HD video will be offered at full 1080p through it and users can watch instantly, with no downloads and no delays.
Don’t want to watch a video? Then you can listen to music, as Xbox Live will add millions of songs from Last.fm direct to your TV.
All of these features are due to hit Xbox Live this fall.
Xbox also showed off its “Project Natal,” which is a future hardware add-on that abandons the controller entirely and instead uses body gestures to control games and navigate through menus. There was no release date for that tech, though.
Palm revealed today that the upcoming Palm Pre will include Palm media sync, which will allow it to synchronize with iTunes to transfer DRM-free music, photos, and videos.
Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s Chairman, and Roger McNamee, a Palm director and co-founder of Elevation Partners, made a presentation at the Wall Street Journal‘s D: All Things Digital conference, where they talked about iTunes support and other new Pre features.
Palm Media Sync
Thanks to Palm media sync, users will be able to connect their Pre to a PC or Mac via the USB cable, select “media sync” on the phone, and iTunes will launch on the desktop computer. The user will then be able to choose which DRM-free media files to transfer.
“We designed Palm media sync to be an easy and elegant way for you to take the content you own and put it on Pre, and it’s just one of the ways we think you’ll be amazed by webOS,” said Rubinstein.
One of the hallmarks of the Palm Pre’s webOS is giving users access to online information, and there’s a new addition to this: Palm also announced that Twitter search will be integrated into webOS universal search.
This function will allow those with a Pre to look for a contact or an application on the device, and also search the Web via Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, and now Twitter.
Jeff Nolan wrote an interesting article title “Is Twitter Killing RSS?” I want to respond and decided to respond here on The RSS Weblog, rather than in Jeff’s comments, as I’d like everybody to read this follow-up.
RSS is a protocol and Twitter is an application. Many publishers are using RSS-to-Twitter gateways to update their Twitter account when new items are publiched on their blog. The protocol and application are not competitive at all. In fact, they are complimentary. Twitter is not an RSS-killer, but rather a use-case for RSS.
Further, Twitter not only can import RSS, but it exposes an RSS feed so that you can inject your Twitter data into other applications. Many social websites are trying to import your Twitter updates. That RSS feed is likely the easiest way to do exactly that. Hmmm! Must play.
Last, could Twitter replace RSS for audience acquisition (as Jeff suggests)? Of course it could for some publishers, but it’d be a bad idea. Remember that Twitter is mostly used by us geeks. Most people are not trying to target geeks, but rather are targeting people like my wife, kids, parents, brothers and sisters. Not one of them have any clue what Twitter is and obviously don’t use it. On the other hand, many of them are using RSS even though they really don’t know what RSS is. That’s because RSS is a protocol (under the hood). Twitter is just an application. Someday, the geeks will get bored with Twitter and move on. RSS is a protocol of the Web and it’s not going anywhere.
Google and Twitter may be in late-stage negotiations to acquire Twitter. Or it is early-stage and the two are simply talking about working on a real-time search engine.
Regardless, Tech Crunch quotes multiple sources that Google wants Twitter. If a deal goes down, it would likely be cash and/or stock and some number north of a rumored valuation of $250 million. Facebook offered $500 mil, but that was an all-stock deal, so Twitter took a pass.
Twitter’s value is in real-time search and its huge community of users and brands. The collection and analysis of information embedded in all of those Tweets in real time is big bucks; skip ads and proceed directly to time-sensitive data mining.