Verizon Hoping for Xbox 'Halo' Effect

On Dec. 6 (next Tuesday), Microsoft plans to release what it touts as a major update for Xbox 360, including a newly designed user interface that lets users control the TV by speaking commands or using gestures with the Kinect attachment — along with “the first group of new entertainment custom applications.”

The company isn’t saying which parties are first in the mix, but recall the slurry of hype last month surrounding the deals Microsoft has struck with Comcast, Verizon FiOS, HBO Go and others (see Coming Soon To Xbox: Comcast VOD And A Few Live FiOS TV Channels and Microsoft Inks Deals To Bring HBO Go, Bravo, BBC And More To Xbox 360).

Verizon also won’t say if its app is going to be available Dec. 6 or sometime later, but the telco is so excited about coming to the Xbox that it’s already offering a special deal to new triple-play FiOS subs.

New customers who sign up online for FiOS TV service through Jan. 21, 2012, are eligible for a triple play that includes 35/35 Mbps Internet service starting at $89.99 a month. In addition, the telco will throw in a 12-month Xbox Live Gold membership and the “Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” game.

Initially, Verizon will deliver 26 live TV channels, available to subs who have FiOS TV and Internet as well as Xbox Live Gold, including MTV, Spike, Food Network, Comedy Central, HBO, CNN and Nickelodeon.

What’s the advantage? For one thing, you won’t have to pay for another set-top.

Beyond that, Microsoft and its partners are heavily plugging the Kinect’s voice-activated controls (so you could tell the Xbox, “Turn on Comedy Central” or even, I presume, ask it, “When is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on?”).

I agree that’s a neat party trick. But will it really be useful? The other point worth noting is that, in a consumer culture steeped in things like the iPhone 4S’s Siri voice-recognition feature, coolness is a very real selling point.

What do you think — will TV on Xbox move the needle for Microsoft or any of its partners? Add your comments below.


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