Microsoft announced today via its blog that it will be selling its Mediaroom properties to Ericsson, in a deal that will see Ericsson become the dominant IPTV player in the industry with over 25 percent market share. Mediaroom operates as a pretty much separate company from Microsoft, with its own HQ in Mountain View and around 400 employees, and powers TV offerings like AT&T U-verse, as well as services from Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Telus. The deal clears the deck for Microsoft fo go all-in on Xbox as the focal point of its own TV efforts.
At Ericsson, Mediaroom will continue to operate essentially as per usual, with that company investing in growing the business, while at Microsoft, the sale allows Microsoft to dedicate “all TV resources to Xbox in a continued mission to make it the premium entertainment service that delivers all the games and entertainment consumers want,” Microsoft said in its blog post. The company also intends to partners with studios, labels, networks and operators to help accomplish that mission, and says it hopes to help usher in a future where TV becomes “more simple, tailored and intelligent.”
Microsoft built Mediaroom into the industry leader in IPTV after its introduction as Microsoft TV, which evolved into the Mediaroom platform in 2007. It’s the middleware that powers set-top boxes from a variety of manufacturers, and also has a home in the Xbox 360, which uses it to act as a set-top box for service from some IPTV operators, including AT&T and Telus.
Mediaroom is very much a behind-the-scenes tech, however, and doesn’t carry the power or branding of Xbox. Refocusing efforts on making that the central facet of their television strategy, instead of being distracted by middleware that arguably helps competitors position their own devices at the center of a living room TV experience makes sense at this stage for Microsoft.
This move also suggests we’ll see something exciting from Microsoft on the integrated TV front with the upcoming Xbox 360 successor, which is reportedly on track for a sneak preview towards the end of May. PlayStation may be doubling down on games and the gamer, but that means there’s even more opportunity for Microsoft to make an impression as the destination for all of a user’s entertainment needs.