All for One and One for All

Well, there you have it! The long awaited announcement of Xbox One.

Personally, it was everything I asked for and more. I think I speak for most gamers and techies out there when I say that we are a demanding bunch… so give us a product that does what it says on the tin and the response is a resounding “Meh!”

Give us a product that does what it’s supposed to, but also be x, y and z – well now you’ve got my attention.

So has technology now powered a fundamental shift in the influence of the consumer?  I believe it has.

It is now very rare for customers to buy your product simply because they are inherently loyal – gone are the days when you can just show these customers what to buy and they will buy it. It goes back to one of Steve’s earlier blog posts – having more choice enables a power shift for the consumer.

The key for innovators now is to reach consumers on an emotional level and go beyond their expectations. I think Microsoft have hit the nail on the head by making the Xbox One a gaming console, a TV Companion, a music player and an internet browser.

This ‘all in one’ concept has driven the innovations of the smart phone market – 20 years ago we bought our PCs, phones, cameras, calculators, watches, Walkmans etc. separately.  One device can now come with pretty much everything, and that will continue to evolve.

Another key announcement that was made during the announcement was that Kinect will be shipped with every Xbox One. For those not aware, Kinect is a motion sensing input device which has a built in webcam, and acts as an add-on for the Xbox console.

Effectively, it enables users to control and interact with the Xbox (360 or the new One) without the need to touch a game controller, by simply using gestures and spoken commands.

Nintendo made the first move in motion sensor with the Wii console in 2006.  The Wii was different to anything else at the time (and nowadays different is synonymous with innovative). It hit a massive demographic which meant your 80 year old gran could easily pick it up and play her favourite games. Kudos Nintendo!

The gaming industry and gamers themselves have now matured and somewhat been spoilt by the likes of Sony and Microsoft. A game is no longer just about being ‘fun’. We gamers now have higher expectations, we want the game to come to us and crucially, we also want to be in the game ourselves.

A few years passed while the two big players knocked a few ideas together, and then the announcements followed in quick succession in 2010 – Microsoft with Xbox Kinect and Sony with Move.

Sony, with its handheld device, was larger than the Wii Remote. Predictable yes, and it didn’t get any noise from the gamers – we had seen it already.

Microsoft, however, caught us gamers on the blind side; they went against convention and completely removed the one thing that was between you and the game, the controller. Us humans were now the controller and our voice and movements were what drove the game. There is nothing like this on the market and probably won’t be until something completely new comes along (Thank you Patents.)

So what can we learn from all of this? It’s better to be the BEST in market than FIRST to market. Be both and you have hit the jackpot.

This is why Nintendo will now struggle to keep up with the big boys.  As a company you need to show your target audience (and to a lesser extent, your competitors) that you are looking to innovate and push the boundaries.

For Microsoft, bravo.  You can’t help but feel that the original Kinect was their large scale alpha test. They asked themselves “Will people buy it?” and didn’t focus on the “How many people will buy it?” They must have got their answer seeing as every Xbox One will be shipping with the Kinect.

They also asked themselves, “Why would people buy the Kinect?” You can be Luke Skywalker with the Light Saber, you can have your kids play with animals on screen, you can also control your TV and navigate your way through your console menu using gestures and voice.

As consumers, what should drive us is the idea that we have all the tools and technology at our disposal – in essence, we have the canvas and the paintbrush. Seeing things like Illumiroom and the how that could be used along with Kinect makes me all giddy inside!! The line between our virtual and physical worlds is becoming increasingly blurred.

Feel free to post any comments. Does this next-generation console war spell the end for Nintendo? Is there anything Sony can do to bring some vibe back into their console announcement? Are you happy with consoles now being about more than gaming? What power do you think the consumer has now?