Blue Ocean Strategy is a powerful thing. The Wii took great advantage of this, as has Apple and others. Some people try to cite this as an example of the direction for Microsoft’s upcoming XBoxOne. But that ocean isn’t blue anymore. Older parents and grandparents that bought Wii’s aren’t looking for another box. Certainly not one with 3 Operating Systems and a camera.
The Wii was an innovative and mass-market product that hit big before tablets, and during the early days of touch phones. They have taken over the “casual” gaming market.
So what does that leave? The Smart TV / Living-Room audience. That was the stated goal of the XBox project when it launched… to “invade the living room.” IGN in particular has been jumping all over this point when defending the strategy. Saying the mass market is so much bigger than the gaming market. So what of that argument? Sony and Nintendo aren’t making serious runs as the all-in-one living room box. Is that the win for Microsoft?
That argument forgets Roku players, Apple TVs, Google TV, tivo, smart TVs and all of the other sub-$100 products in this market space. Sure, they don’t do as much. And that innovation could come at a much lower cost.
How hard would it be for Apple or Roku to make an ipad app with Siri features that controls an Apple TV or Roku box? Now I have a touch screen remote and voice commands for my entertainment.
And all of those companies are good at consumer devices. Much more consistent than the Microsoft track record with Zune, Surface, etc.
Add to it things that don’t work in a new digital world. Take today’s Penny Arcade discussion on backwards compatibility for digital assets. Microsoft didn’t think that one through.
I’m not trying to pile on. I hope there are multiple good next-gen consoles. But if you’re going to play in the consumer device model, you have to remember who’s already there, and what they have conditioned consumers to expect.