Thursday, June 27, 2013

Microsoft's Kinect for PC: Is Their Startegy Here for Longevity?

                Yesterday, Jun 26th, Microsoft released some announcements for its Kinect for Windows. This is a newer version than the one originally released for its Xbox 360, and is slightly different from the version to be released with their upcoming Xbox One (Orland). In “Lessons in Longevity, From IBM” the author mentions that Microsoft has a chance to learn from IBM’s lessons on how to adjust business and products a company provides for the long haul.  He also mentioned that one of the products poised to do this was specifically the Kinect (Lohr). Microsoft came close, but missed the mark a bit from a consumer’s perspective. From a business perspective, they may be right on.
                The new Kinect for the Xbox One and the personal computer will be a technological upgrade from the first version available for the Xbox 360. It will be faster, recognize a higher resolution, and track smaller objects such as fingers. This will give the user a greater amount of control as they can user finer motor skills to control objects on the screen and interact with the device. This is an upgrade from the gross motor skills the previous device recognized. The new Kinect will also continue to use the voice recognition and will include facial recognition. This can allow a user to log into a computer without a user name or password, simply using their face (Newman, “New Microsoft Kinect Enters PC Motion-controller Wars”). The big problem concerning the two devices is that while similar in construct and functionality, will not be inter operable. The connector for the Xbox one will be proprietary while the ones for the PC will use a standard USB 3.0 (Orland). A user will not be able to simply plug the Kinect from the Xbox One into a computer, or the other way around. While the older version of the Kinect was able to be shown to operate on both devices by some enterprising third parties, this functionality was not the intent of Microsoft. The intent was to make the Kinect backward compatible with older Xbox 360’s, not Pc’s. From a consumer’s standpoint, the non-inter operability means if the user wants to use the Kinect on the Xbox and PC, they cannot simply purchase one Kinect. They will have to purchase two of them at $250 apiece. This is where Microsoft’s strategy for the Kinect differs by view point. From a consumer’s point of view, this is terrible, from the business side, this is great.
For the consumer, shelling out $500 plus tax and extras is not a proposition that many will easily buy into. The consumer would like one solution for the same functionality. They want one device that will work with both the PC and the Xbox to control the games and operating systems. The savvy consumer will see right through this ploy of Microsoft’s and choose either to not buy the device, or choose on which device they will use it the most. There will be the small percentage of techno-geeks that always have to have the newest and best techno-toys, but I think they will be the minority rather than the norm. This could hurt Microsoft in the long run and their revenues for the Kinect.
From the business side, this is great. Microsoft will get twice the revenue for the same device. The major functionality will only have to be developed once, reducing research and design costs. Microsoft will incur additional costs in developing the slight changes to make it operate on either the pc or the Xbox One, but these are minor when compared to the total project development costs.  Microsoft is initially aiming their pc target audience for the business sector, who would not be a target audience for the Xbox One version (Newman, “Next-generation Kinect for Windows Won’t Be for the Average User”). This is smart on Microsoft’s part as it will eliminate the user’s aversion to buying multiple devices for the same functionality.
Time will tell if this newest venture of Microsoft’s will help them ingrain their longevity even deeper. One last hurdle they will have to overcome is the competitors’ devices that beat them to the market. Two other companies with cheaper devices will ship well before Microsoft is poised to (Newman, “New Microsoft Kinect Enters PC Motion-controller Wars”). Microsoft will have to produce a better device that significantly out performs the competition to overcome the first mover advantage. It will be interesting to see in the near future if these devices help to change how we interact with our devices not just for entertainment, but for productivity and every-day usage. It will also be interesting to see how Microsoft’s strategy for the Kinect develops and adapts to the consumer desires and needs and if it has poised Microsoft to continue to grow and have a similar longevity to IBM.


Lohr, Steve. “I.B.M. at 100 - Lessons in Tech Longevity -” The New York Times. New York Times Company. 18 June 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

Newman, Jared. “New Microsoft Kinect Enters PC Motion-controller Wars.” TechHive. IDG Consumer & SMB. 22 May 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

---. “Next-generation Kinect for Windows Won’t Be for the Average User.” TechHive. IDG Consumer & SMB. 23 May 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

Orland, Kyle. “Microsoft: Kinect for Xbox One Will Not Work on PCs.” Arstechnia. Conde Nast. 26 June 2013. Web. 27 June 2013.

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