Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Microsoft: Shut Up

This should be the first rule of PR: never make it worse.

Here are a few of the things Don Mattrick said to Geoff Keighley yesterday:
--"Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360".
--"I mean, when I read the blogs and thought about who really is the most impacted, there was a person who said ‘hey, I’m on a nuclear sub’ – and I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub [grins] – but I imagine it’s not easy to get an internet connection. I can empathize, if I was on a sub, I’d be disappointed."

What an outstanding false equivalency: the only people who don't have broadband access are extraordinary edge cases, like guys who work on nuclear submarines.

Here's Microsoft's problem: when you have to grossly misrepresent to defend your position, then you have the wrong position. And stacking misrepresentations doesn't make it any more true.

Plus, being smug ("Fortunately, we have a product) doesn't help, either.

Microsoft has four problems here, and they're all big.

One, they need to shut the hell up. Right now. Stop saying stupid, arrogant, smug things.

Two, they need to understand that the support they continue giving the 360 is going to cannibalize Xbro One sales. Trying to position both as desirable consoles with different purposes simply won't work. Who's ever done that successfully in the console market? No one.

Three, they made a bunch of damn policies on internet requirements and used games that basically everyone hates. A failure to understand how badly they've overreached here will be fatal.  They need to triage the situation and see what they can scale back.

Four, and in spite of how annoying the first three are, this might be their biggest problem. Here's another quote from Mattrick:
--"... till you use it [Xbox One] it's really hard to understand what all the advantages are."


When you have to say that, your product has been terribly designed. It's a kitchen sink product, with all kinds of features that might only be of real use to people who work on nuclear submarines. Lots of them sound very cool, but they all need proof of concept.

Consumers are simple, generally. Make a product that can be clearly sold with one sentence, and make it a relative value compared to the competition.

The Wii could be explained, and persuasively, in one sentence. The PS3 took Sony execs a thousand words to explain.

Microsoft has the Sony problem here. The Xbro One theoretically does so much, and it's so damned fantastic, that it's just not possible for mere mortals to understand without hands-on experience.

Then you price it at $499 in a price-sensitive market. See the problem?

Microsoft needs to thread the needle here. But they've already made so many mistakes that instead of getting to use thread, it's rope.

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