A lot has been written about one short sentence included in a statement made by Phil Spencer, Head of XBOX at the start of the XBOX Global Briefing during E3 Gaming 2014, which was held in Los Angeles. Mr. Spencer set the stage for the balance of the briefing with a simple announcement: ‘Today we are dedicating our entire briefing to games.’
These 9 words have prompted thousands, if not tens of thousands of words in analyst commentary on what they imply, and even signify. Is Microsoft trying to rebrand the device as a pure gamer’s console? What about the home entertainment potential of the product? Why all the emphasis on “shooter games”? Is this a capitulation to the better sales performance Sony has achieved with the Playstation? etc.
But what if Mr. Spencer meant no more than what he said? What if product branding hasn’t changed, but the communications opportunity presented by the Global Briefing was better served with an absolute focus on one of the benefits of the device — its capabilities as a gaming console? Further, wouldn’t this focus be entirely appropriate given the venue, meaning the E3 Gaming 2014 event?
I think this last set of assumptions makes the most sense, and, further, is just another example of how Microsoft has fine tuned its marketing communications and public relations since Satya Nadella took over as CEO. The XBOX One is still a very full featured home entertainment control center, and Microsoft is likely to use appropriate opportunities to highlight these capabilities for the market. But electronic games are a very big market in and of themselves. If nothing else, all of the commentary published in the aftermath of Mr. Spencer’s presentation and the video tour of new games may help boost sales of the XBOX One.
Even better, if the intention is to disrupt a market, which is, I believe, Microsoft’s plan to open opportunities for its hardware devices (for the tablet, smart phone, home gaming console, and home entertainment center markets) then provoking a bit of controversy certainly can’t hurt. If nothing else, everyone seems to have heard the same consistent message. Clarity never hurt anyone.
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