Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Microsoft Has Fought and Lost the Wrong War

Eurogamer has a comprehensive and, frankly, sobering account of Microsoft's Kinect.  The final hardware represents one cost-saving compromise after another, as the company desperately tries to lower expenses.  Downgraded abilities include a CPU within the device, the resolution of the camera lens, and the loss of finger control (this renders such things as virtual keyboards useless).  And, as always, there's the lag, the annoying lag.

I don't believe Kinect ever had a chance of stopping Nintendo Wii, based just on the business model and the rules of disruptive innovation.  But you would at least expect competent hardware.  Sadly, this is Microsoft, a software and marketing company with no experience building hardware whatsoever...and, once again, it shows.

Please, investors, pull the plug.  Kinect is a final, desperate push by Microsoft's crumbling consumer division.  The company gambled that digital technology would one day converge around the living room.  But that did not happen - the digital convergence has come to the cell phone, not the television.  Like the middle son in Kurosawa's Ran, you have fought on the wrong battlefield.  Google is set to destroy your castle.  Every dollar wasted on the Xbox is lost to the mobile market and the Social Gaming Era.

If I were a Microsoft investor, I would be absolutely terrified.  This is George W. Bush levels of incompetence.  How can Steve Ballmer not see this?  The truth is clear to all, even the most diehard Xbox fans.  Kinect will fail to capture Nintendo's Expanded Market.  The machine doesn't even live up to the original marketing hype.  It has only managed to anger the company's core base.

To hell with the Kinect and the Xbox, I say.  Kill the consumer division immediately and save yourselves!  Windows and Office are old and ripe for disruption.  If Google or Apple manages to make any significant inroads there....Microsoft is finished.  When I think of Microsoft in 2010, all I can see is a lumbering dinosaur chasing around squirrels, unknowingly in the path of the coming asteroid.

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