That's a funny question, make no mistake, and it's got an answer that may not prove to be very funny at all for Microsoft
. For us, however, it should be a bit of great news as it should spark competition between Microsoft and Amazon and give rise to several new and useful features for us to enjoy. But the point remains that Amazon may have just pulled off a masterstroke and done the job that Microsoft is still seeking to do...for now.
Earlier today, more specific word emerged about the Amazon console, that was suggested to be in the works since last year, but was delayed at the last minute to this year instead. Powered by Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm
and set to take advantage of a wide swath of Amazon's overall offerings, from music to movies to, of course, video games
, the little console was set to hit shelves for under $300 and was demonstrated with games from both the Android and the iOS libraries.
On a certain level, this was regarded as kind of a bad idea, especially given the Ouya's overall lack of mobility in the market and the Gamestick's ongoing silence. Android based console play may not be the kind of thing that Microsoft would ever really need to worry about—indeed, some games that started mobile got ported to the Xbox 360, just look at Angry Birds—but that's not really the issue here. The issue is the concept of living room dominance, and Amazon may have just won.
Why? Simple. We all know that Amazon is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the living room. Music, movies, TV shows, it's all right there. Amazon Prime is a huge deal, with 10 million people involved already, and that's set to grow by as much as five million per year beyond that. That's a pretty substantial audience of folks with an interest in playing media from that service, and that's ready to go. Throw in the stuff that's bought directly electronically on Amazon and the number goes up further. Now allow all those people to watch that content directly on their televisions, and also play games for less than $300. Microsoft's position, as a result, looks just a little weaker.
Yet by like token, Microsoft has advantages here. Microsoft games will always be better than what comes out for Android, assuming that's all the Amazon console can do. Microsoft will be able to effectively straddle the line, working the center of the Venn diagram that is “media buffs” and “gamers”. Amazon might get the pure media fans who want a quick, casual game sometimes, and Sony seems to be doing pretty well with the straight gamer crowd, but Microsoft might have the versatility angle on its side here, providing both deep gaming experiences and media content.
Of course, only time will really tell just what comes out of this. It could be that Amazon has really picked up a winner here and may be prepared to work accordingly, treading on Microsoft's territory surprisingly well with a combination of gaming and other media that will be tough to turn down. Microsoft, however, may manage to win out, taking slices out of both of its competitors' pies sufficient to give it a good solid pie on the dessert table, and one in two flavors besides. We'll all be able to tell one way or the other fairly soon, after the Amazon console makes its appearance, but the end result may be a very big deal for someone.