Xbox Live: Does It Belong on Your iOS or Android?

It’s no secret that Microsoft is falling behind on its sales of Windows 8. Its XBox One game console, however, isn’t doing so bad. With sales figures that total 3.5 million units at the time of this writing, it’s still behind the Playstation 4 though. So, clearly, Microsoft is looking for a way to strengthen its position. Here’s where Apple comes in. Apple has control over millions of homes – people who aren’t necessarily playing Xbox. And, Apple is on solid footing with its user base.

People buy into Apple because of the ecosystem. Yeah, they’re a bit walled off from the rest of the world, but Apple fans love it that way. Something similar could be said of Android users, though “ecosystem” isn’t really the word that users prefer, seeing as it’s a little more of an open atmosphere when you own a Google-powered device.

Microsoft is sort of the oddball in the room. They want to get between users and Apple or Android as a sort of “third wheel.” On the surface, the reasoning seems sound and logical. Microsoft has a good product, and they’ve got experience in the console arena. They also have a robust infrastructure.

If you can believe this, most businesses still run Microsoft’s OS. Even with the popularity of the iPad POS platform, the back-end is usually powered by something coded in a more “traditional” language and running on a more “traditional” framework (i.e. .NET). So, why not ride on past successes and put the platform out there and see who salutes?

Microsoft also has some good franchises like Grand Theft Auto and BioShock. With Games for Windows Live, you’d think it’d be a no-brainer. But, look closer. The Games For Windows service never actually gained traction, even with support from developers.

Keep in mind that GFWL was on Microsoft’s own platform and it performed terribly. What are iOS and Android users supposed to do with it? It’s kind of like Microsoft is pleading with Apple and Google, “our service didn’t work at home, but we’re sure it’ll work at your place.” Really Microsoft?

And then there’s the dying infrastructure. No one really knows what will happen to Microsoft going forward. Businesses do still run on MS OS, but that’s changing. Now that XP is no longer being supported, companies are being forced to upgrade, but many do not feel comfortable with the Windows 8 Experience. And, yet, they are not safe with the XP platform – everything from ATMs to point-of-sale terminals, and personal computers are at risk. In one survey, 76 percent of respondents said they still use at least one Windows XP system on their network.

Why don’t users upgrade? And, if they aren’t willing to upgrade, why should other companies take the risk of implementing a new platform from a company that doesn’t have a streamlined way to upgrade users?

But, even if the core services at Microsoft worked great, and its gaming platform was successful, Apple and Android don’t need Microsoft like Microsoft needs them. Both platforms have their own respective gaming platforms, and this is where Microsoft comes up short on incentives.

Apple has moved way beyond solitaire with its Game Center app. Google has Google Play Game Services, and even Amazon has GameCircle, so Microsoft can forget about approaching the Kindle division.

Plus, developers can just release the game directly to the platform it wants, rather than go through the clunky process of putting a 3rd-party app on iPhone or Android devices.

Leaderboards, friends lists, achievements, and even save syncing already exist on those platforms, so Microsoft isn’t offering any value-add there.

Maybe the Xbox department thinks that users could benefit from more video streaming options? Since YouTube is no longer native on the iPhone, there’s room for another app that can stream video, right?  Not so fast. Apple’s got its own video app, and it streams iTunes. And, while iOS devices do still love YouTube, the marketplace is pretty crowded at the moment.

On top of that, there are already 3rd party apps and software programs that make watching YouTube videos easier than anything Microsoft could ever offer, if users decide that they don’t want to use the built-in video app.

Take YouTube downloading, for example. The second that cell service providers started metering data on smartphones, users came up with the clever idea of downloading videos directly to the mobile device. They used programs like YTD so that they wouldn’t incur overage charges for streaming hours upon hours of video. That’s a smart move – one that Microsoft never caught on to. Of course, if you plan on doing this yourself, remember to respect intellectual property.

Contrast this to Microsoft’s current offering. The most they could offer iOS and Android users is a replication of streaming services like a YouTube app, Netflix, or something similar – fail. Users don’t use steaming services as much as they used to, unless they’re connected to Wi-Fi. You had your time in the sun Microsoft. It’s time to retire and live off the fat of the 1990s.

Ryan Stewart is a gaming tech whiz. When not challenging his friends to virtual battles of wits, he blogs his discoveries and reviews about new games and gaming tech innovations.

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