xbox one

Ben of Stratechery posted an interesting article about how Apple TV can disrupt the game console market.  It’s insightful and I highly recommend you read it; then come back here for my take.

I have two areas of push back:

  1. The high end games market is still largely mainstream and still growing
  2. The low end market already exists and is already well served with mobile phones, tablets and previous generation consoles

Apple has a chance to disrupt Sony and Microsoft, but it won’t be through the Apple TV.  Casual gamers won’t purchase a new device for games they can already play on existing devices.

For Apple to make inroads to gaming on TV, it should be via a Chromecast type device that connects the iPhone or iPad to the TV plus a controller.  Price all that for $60 and Apple can disrupt Sony and Microsoft.

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Oh Microsoft.  The tech giant can’t seem to catch a break.  Last year, Microsoft was criticized for spending too much time on non-gaming things: voice control, TV, original programming, the NFL, etc.  So Microsoft listened to customers (or the press?) and at this year’s E3, the beleaguered company didn’t talk about anything but games, games and games.  And yet, people complained that Microsoft’s presentation was too focused and uninspired.  Forbes‘ take, for example:

[The presentation] wasn’t bad, so much — some of the games looked great, even if many weren’t exclusives — but it was decidedly safe. There wasn’t much that felt exciting coming from Microsoft, and you could sense that in the presentation as well. It was timid. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but you could feel it in the room. For a company that needs to re-invigorate its console, it doesn’t feel great.

It’s a catch-22 situation for Microsoft: damned for talking about non-gaming things, damned for only talking about games.

This is no paradox, however.  Microsoft’s mistake is in taking feedback too literally.  The objective of your business is not to listen to customers, the objective is to impress them enough so that they actually spend time or money on you.  Microsoft focused too much on listening and not enough on the actual wowing.

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The console platform wars are basically down to two: Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4).  This year, Microsoft and Sony both put on a solid show.  Unlike last year, Microsoft talked games, games and more games.  Ironically, Sony was the one who talked about other media, but it also did a good job showing off games in the pipeline.

Who impressed more?  Let’s take a quick pulse around the web — these are the websites that won the SEO game on a Google search for “Who won E3?”

Forbes

Today was very much a continuation of the narrative — Sony swaggering forward, Microsoft putting itself together. There’s still room for things to change as we move forward to the holiday season, but it’s palpably clear where the momentum is…Sony wins E3, by a nose.

Sony 1, Microsoft 0

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Quick recap: Sony and Microsoft launched their next generation consoles late last year. The Playstation 4 is outpacing Microsoft’s Xbox One by millions and that gap is widening, partly because the Xbox One is $100 more expensive than the Playstation 4. So Microsoft just announced a version without Kinect to match the Playstation 4 in price.

I like my Playstation 4 and am planning to purchase an Xbox One. I still am, with Kinect, but less enthusiastically now.

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