As you may have read already today, Microsoft intends to launch retail stores which strikes me as a serious challenge. Unlike Apple which has had great success with their retail strategy, Microsoft relies far too much on their external ecosystem to tell their whole story.
Microsoft has a solid story around connected entertainment with Xbox, Zune and MCE and Apple still regards this area as a hobby with AppleTV. This is a small piece of what they will most likely (my guess) be looking to sell though and I wonder how highlighted OEM partners will be selected to display on the PC side. Given the existing channels in which Microsoft products are sold, Iâ€™m wondering whether a store in a store concept might not actually be a better play here.
Microsoft will definitely have a lot to contend with on the consumer experience side as their system is still quite a bit more complex to setup and manage. It should be an interesting year for retail â€¦. Apple is apparently also retooling their stores to offer more a differentiated experience via the Mac solution.
I get and respect Cisco’s desire to dig deeper into the home, but I am not convinced that a piece of consumer electronics gear is the way to to do it.Â According to the NYT, Cisco is looking to develop a “a digital stereo system that is meant to move music wirelessly around a house.”
I can’t help but wonder why Cisco is not simply focusing on enabling the connectivity and distribution piece on the network rather than going for the end-point.Â I’d rather have something neutral that provides access to content (and not just music btw) where I want it – whether that’s in my house or pushed out to my mobile device.Â The limited info on the upcoming Cisco product seems to limit the usefulness to a connected audio component.Â These typically sit in your stereo rack connected to your home network and stream content through as through it was in your audio player.Â Â Sounds a lot like Sonos, AppleTV and quite a few other boxes that have been sold with considerably less success.
There’s no magic bullet here.Â In order to get your entertainment connected and distributed you need to have a way to either view or here it in every room which means cables or wireless kit.Â We chose the wired route and centralized most of the equipment into a couple of racks beneath the basement stairs.Â Each room in our home in which we planned for AV has speakers installed in-wall we’re able to select any source from any room.
My original AppleTV recently had it’s brain expanded through Boxee and now can play both the (limited) protected content we have from iTunes as well as any other file we happen to have accessible.Â Cisco is going to have to win over Apple unfortunately in order to earn access to the iTunes ecosystem and I just don’t see that happening anytime soon either.Â So far, the standard fault of every media streamer is that it can’t play iTunes DRM … I don’t see how Cisco’s solution solves any of this.Â Another box to setup and futz around with as a source?Â No thanks.
I was given a demo of the Nokia Home Control Center solution at Nokia World and it will take a very different approach.Â Instead of trying to provide a streaming end point, Nokia is shooting for a more centralized role in your home and one that I frankly would have expected from Cisco.