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Apple Inc. (AAPL) vs. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) vs. Google Inc (GOOG): Battle for the Living Room

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It all comes down to the living room. The titans of tech have traded punches on PCs and are gaining ground in mobile, but the ultimate battle will take place inside the TV.

And why not? The TV is really just a full-blown monitor. With so many people wrapping up their days by spending their leisure time consuming prime-time programming, it was just a matter of time before the quest for eyeballs came to the battle to end all battles in your living room.

So let’s look at how the biggest players in tech are jockeying for position to be at the heart of your home’s heart.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
The Xbox 360 isn’t just about gaming, and that became apparent during last month’s Xbox One media event, when the entire first half of the presentation was devoted to the new console’s streaming and computing benefits. Game demos followed during the latter half of the reveal.

When the Xbox One hits the market in time for this year’s holiday shopping season, buyers will be able to seamlessly shift from games to live TV to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) knows what it’s doing. It was the first console maker to allow Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) subscribers to stream through its console. Netflix was a lot smaller at the time, and streaming video was largely a novelty. However, with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sitting on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s board — where he remained until stepping down last year — no one has had to tell the software giant that Netflix is the leading source of bandwidth consumption during peak prime-time hours. Even without Hastings on the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) board, Netflix will be a big part of the Xbox One experience.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)
The world’s leading online search provider fumbled Google TV with its launch three years ago.

Big G had best-of-class partners on the hardware end, but it failed to play nice with the programmers. Leading broadcasters and cable networks didn’t buy in, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) TV launched a Web-enabled platform where many of the more popular viewing options were blocked for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) TV viewing.

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