Friday, April 18, 2008

Microsoft Building Social Profiles Around Television

At its core, Microsoft's MediaRoom manages a user’s shows, photos and songs, similar to MediaCenter, but on a more powerful level. But it’s the applications that are fascinating to watch. They showed NASCAR, for example, that gives viewers the ability to select different cameras, microphones and read driver and track profiles (the data is pulled via an XML feed from NASCAR’s site.) The also showed a CNN Election demo, where you dig down for more information, vote in polls and even play video clips straight from in a smaller “picture in picture” Windows Media player. All of these applications make much more sense, as Microsoft pointed out, than earlier ITV products that let you “click and buy Jennifer Aniston’s shirt.” But the most interesting feature was MediaRoom’s social functionality. The idea is that it would be integrated with an existing online social network, like Facebook. You can view your friends, check their status updates, etc. You can also see (if they desire) what TV shows your friends are currently watching, either live or on DVR. This becomes interesting, because you can rate shows and recommend shows to your friends. All of this “builds a social profile around television,” said the Microsoft exhibitor, which opens up a whole new world of targeted advertising. Also, when combined with chat, is a powerful promotional mechanism, especially for younger viewers who are watching less TV these days. Of course, for many of us, a product like this will take some time before it’s a reality, depending on how quickly IPTV is getting rolled out in your neighborhood.

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