Thursday, March 29, 2007

Microsoft announces XBOX 360 Elite

Tough break for the 8.76 million people who already bought an XBOX 360.

CE Pro: Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite Adds HDMI, 1080p
Microsoft officially announced the new Xbox 360 Elite yesterday, confirming rumors and Internet buzz about an upgraded version of the gaming system and Media Center Extender. The new system will feature an HDMI port capable of 1080p video output, an expanded hard drive and a black finish.

So, my first question is, what gaming content are they going to announce that capitalizes on the upgraded unit's new capabilities?

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Content isn't the issue - creating dissatisfaction is. The primary goal of most marketing isn't to sell you on the new item, it's to make you dissatisfied with the old one and let your natural human nature take it's course. No one is immune to this - mea culpa.

Your entry about HP dumping their "media centers" product is another example of how this type of thinking enters into the design strategy and ends up feeding this marketing approach.

Maybe what is so frustrating for many of us who used to really enjoy the world of consumer electronics is that increasingly it seems that new products don't offer significant improvements in the performance of the task they were created to do. Instead, they offer a couple of features that might have been offered on the original item if the manufacturer had decided to do so, a cool new paint job and maybe a technical upgrade that is - for the most part - irrelevant for most users. The primary reason to own the new unit then becomes "because it's the latest model".

Ask yourself this - when was the last time you were excited about new products entering the market in a particular category because you knew that:

A) the items would actually work as advertised because the technology was established.

B) there would be some measurable increase in performance that you would be able to immediately appreciate if you purchased the item.

C) there was a good chance one of the major manufacturers would be offering a new model in that category that was obviously the product of a serious effort to offer you a better, more satisfying product.

There have been too many seasons of model introductions that amount to little more than cosmetic makeovers - often resulting in less desirable products. There have been too many new format/new technology introductions that have either fallen flat or arrived half-baked. There have been too many seasons of introducing second-generation (or third or fourth) products that finally have features and performance that could have easily been incorporated into the original design. And these "seasons" are often short enough that the buyers regret many of us feel is quite acute - and because this happens so often this regret is becoming chronic for some.

With manufacturers abusing their clients in this way and retailers abusing us in so many other ways it shouldn't be a surprise that the buzz generated by announcements like this one for the Xbox Elite result in sales that are underwhelming to the manufacturers.

If the only reason to buy the "new one" is because it's the "new one" then it's time to ask "Why buy at all?" Maybe more and more people are asking this question. This might be the reason the red ink is flowing so freely in the CE world these days as your posting on the woes at Circuit City points out.

Memo to the CE industry (all levels): If it is good for the client - that is really, actually, honestly good for them, not just good for them because you think it is - then it might be good for you too. Happy customers = healthy business.

Try making a couple of seriously important product development and marketing decisions based on this approach and see what happens. For some of you what have you got left to lose? Not much I'd say.