Nat Brown, a former Microsoft Engineer and a member of the early Xbox team, has published a personal blog post about how the past five years of Xbox were “painful” to watch, especially when it comes to the failure of turning Kinect into something bigger than what it is today. His article has a particularly harsh title: ” Stupid, Stupid xBox!!” — I recommend reading it in full, but here are a few things that I found of particular interest:
Nat Brown reminds that Xbox was supposed to be a Trojan horse to conquer the living room where Microsoft could easily beat inferior hardware such as set top boxes etc, and back then (and even now) the Xbox hardware was indeed furiously superior. Yet, Microsoft failed to take advantage of that situation, and set top boxes are doing just fine today.He also points out that Xbox has failed to produce an content eco-system where developers can easily develop for and make money off. There, he clearly refers to the Apple eco-system which is much more accessible and probably performs better right now from a financial standpoint. Apple has paid $8B to developers, and that should accelerate as the mobile market grows.
Finally, the last point is that Nat Brown thinks that Apple could “Easily Kill” Wii-U, Xbox, PlayStation. It’s not so much that an Apple “box” would run better games or faster games or nicer games. But it’s the fact that Apple has a better eco-system for developers, and at the end of the day, they don’t need to have an all powerful console to lead. Even with casual and medium-level games, Apple is capable of taking a significant share of the play time worldwide, and that’s bad for other console makers and platform.
He ends with: “xBox just needs somebody with a brain and focus to get the product in order tactically before romping forward to continue the long-term strategic promise of an xBox in every living room, connected to every screen.”
Those are hard words, but coming from someone who has an intimate knowledge of the project and group dynamics around Xbox, it sheds a particularly interesting light on the future of Xbox as we’re waiting for the next-generation hardware to be released. What do you think? Is Xbox just fine, or is Nat Brown right when saying that it is much more vulnerable than one may think?
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