In last decade there have been many great rivaleries: Tyson Vs. Hollifield, Baggy pants vs Skinny Jeans, Alien VS. Predator - the list just goes on and on. Now a new fight is brewing: Google's Nexus Q and Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Google has recently announced their new form of media consumption for their users. It's small, round, glows like Tron, and looks a bit like the Death Star. This sphere will go head to head with the Xbox 360. Microsoft has been rebranding the Xbox 360 for the last few years, turning it from an exclusive gaming system to your main media device. More and more people have been using the console to watch movies, stream music, and to video chat. With Smart Glass coming out hopefully in the fall, Microsoft will be integrating your phone or tablet as both a second screen and remote control.
The Nexus Q is Google's attempt to make a device to stream your content to your stereo or television through the Play brand. Let's face it, no matter where you look, every OS is putting up walls to make sure you invest in only them. Apple started it, Android is now playing by their rules, and Microsoft is sharing Smart Glass with iOS and Android. Microsoft knows its platform, and people who own an Xbox may own iPhones or Android phones; they are making a smart move by making it available on all platforms to ensure its success.
Android has a large market share but most Android owners barely use Gmail, let alone the whole ecosytem. Nearly 75 percent of apps in the Android market are free and riddled with ads. Google is trying to expand their services and this device is their attempt. The Nexus Q streams media via tablet or phone. That is, you controll it from your phone, and then it pulls down music from your Google Play account directly to the device, or movies and TV episodes straight from Google. Anyone with an Android phone can sync their media to the Q through wifi -- so long as that feature is turned on in the device's settings. Or, if you don't want to hear that new Bieber song, just hide your Wi-Fi password.
Google wants this to be a social experience, for people to invite friends over share some food, some drink, and their music. In theory, this sounds like a fun time. In reality, I have seen fights break out, relationships end, and friendships broken, all because everyone wanted to play the DJ. That is what I foresee with the Q.
There is no security feature, anyone who has an Android device that is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread (once this thing's officially released, anyway) can put their music or video into your Q and voila, they just interrupted your sweet party mix that took you spent all day on. I think it is a novel idea, but even Google said, "Hack it." They know this device has promise, but don't know how to expand on their idea. They want the hackers to do what they will to make it usable. ... Another page taken from Microsoft.
The Xbox 360 has been refined to a media device, especially after last fall's Metro update. I love using my voice to control my console to stream music and videos. I catch myself using it more and more for media than actually playing games on it. This is Microsoft's goal, to turn their system into the ultimate media consumption device. With Smart Glass, their companion app, the media aspect is amped up to the max, enabling your device to connect to your Xbox 360 and push content onto it while turning the device into a remote or secondary screen with more info.
Microsoft has the advantage because almost every home has a 360. To make a free app available for not only Windows Phone but also iOS and Android is an incredibly smart move. They have already sold the hardware, so why not give the software away? With Smart Glass, you have access to the content on your device but also what is on your Xbox and Live account.
The Nexus Q is going to sell for $299.99 for a Wi-Fi stereo with built-in amp. The Xbox 360 with 4GB sells for $199.99, a hundred dollars less and you get more out of the device. The 360 is a gaming system, media device, and with Kinect a personal trainer. (Or you can buy the 360 for $99 with a $15 monthly 2-year subscription).
When you compare both devices, the Q is just a tiny Death Star that will be destroyed eventually by Luke. The real hindrance for the Q is that it only works with devices that have Jellybean. Android is struggling to get Ice Cream Sandwhich on their devices, and that update has been out since December. Microsoft will hopefully launch their Surface Tablets and Windows 8 in the fall, and Smart Glass should be ready when they are.
In my eyes, the Xbox 360 has already won this battle. What do you think?
Top image credit of Nexus Q (back) via iFixit.com
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