As Microsoft Xbox One Sells Out, Is It America’s New TV?

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Which company will rule the America TV experience? Will it be primarily hardware or software based? Will it be a cable company which relies on ancient set-tops and primitive pay per view? An online service like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) TV, or Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX). Or will some hardware company like Intel created a product which can take place of those boxes installed by cable and satellite companies a generation ago?

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) made an case that it might talk a large portion of the business to control media in the American living room. Its Xbox, which it has always hoped would replace the dwindling influence of the home PC, sold out its new version in a day. According to the world’s largest software company:

Following a worldwide celebration, Xbox One launched in 13 markets on Nov. 22 to great fanfare. The team is excited to confirm the launch of Xbox One was the biggest launch in Xbox history, with more than one million consoles sold through worldwide in less than 24 hours – surpassing day one Xbox 360 sales and setting a new record for Microsoft.

It did not have the bragging rights to itself, as its primary rival did nearly as well:

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. today announced that the highly anticipated launch of the PlayStation4 (PS4) computer entertainment system resulted in 1 million units sold through during the first 24 hours after it became available on November 15, 2013 in the United States and Canada.

The two products are old rivals, but the number of competitors which they have grows by the year.

Microsoft has elected to stick with a strategy which has only worked partially. The Xbox, despite Microsoft’s efforts, remains a gaming machine, although its broadband enablement lets to act as a streaming media device and hub for other data which runs in and out of homes. Microsoft can claim it has an open system–a Switzerland of sorts–which allows consumer to have access to a broad array of content services for companies like Hulu and Google’s  (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube. It may be a mistake that Microsoft has not lined up its own movie service and content library to compete with Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. (Editor’s note: Xbox has a cable like pay per view service) But, in a parting decision, CEO Steve Ballmer elected that chasing content distributors in an arena where firms like Netflix have already won the consumers loyalty is a poor idea.

Even if the Xbox does become enthroned as one of the most popular devices in America’s living room, it may never be anything more than a toy and a platform made for games mostly produced by other companies.