Hey. How’s it going? It’s me, Michael. I thought it was time we had a talk. You’ve had a rough few months. Windows 8’s been struggling. The Xbox One’s had a lackluster debut. As a response to it all, Steve Ballmer announced a restructuring plan. I have to admit, that’s a good start. It’s a shame Ballmer’s job isn’t in danger, but one would expect the CEO to want to direct the restructuring rather than consider himself to be part of the problem that needs ‘restructuring.’
I’m your friend Microsoft. Really, I am. It takes a friend to tell you that you’re an idiot. And believe me, you are. You’re a multi-billion dollar company… arguably the most successful company in history, and you’re screwing up. Big time. And as your friend, I have to tell you to stop it. Look, I have some friendly suggestions for you. I want you to consider them. Okay?
1. Customers expect certain things from their products
What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked.
The Start Button. Why did you get rid of the Start Button? I love that thing. Love it, love it, love it. Every program so easy to access. And the cool thing… it’s been there for a long time. Hell, I remember using it in Windows 95! That was 18 years ago. Wow. 18 years…. for 18 years, you had this one button. It was close to a trademark. No, wait. It was a trademark. More than that, it was familiar. When I use a Windows product, I expect to see it and use it.
That’s not to mean your new idea, you know… your iPod/iPad/Smartphone apps ripoff isn’t cool. It is. I’ve gotten used to how to navigate and, well… in some ways, it is better. I can pull up a calculator really quickly. Not to mention when I use Netflix, I can lock it on the left part of the screen while working freely on most of the screen. It’s pretty dang cool.
But really? Learn your customers. It’s not always about innovation. It’s giving customers what they want. Want to know what they want? That’s easy to figure out. Ask them. Take surveys. Reach out to them. It’s easy to do.
2. Take your head out of your backsides
So, the fans revolted against what you were planning for the Xbox One. They looked at it and saw that it sucked. You may have had the best of intentions with your product, but your dedicated and loyal fans saw what you were planning as a betrayal of trust. Rather than listen to your fans or state you were taking their feedback into account immediately, you seemed to dismiss it. I mean, seriously? As a friend, let me tell you… that wasn’t a good idea. It’s commendable that you are dedicated to your vision. It really is.
But seriously? Your ideas were terrible. I don’t care how “forward thinking” you think you were with your DRM policies designed to favor video game developers at the expense of gamers (seriously? You couldn’t ensure discounts for the games since you’re removing the middle man? Do you seriously think I wouldn’t have noticed that? Come on Microsoft. We’re friends. Stop being a dick) and having your Kinect microphone on always on, it wasn’t meant to be.
So you backed down and removed most of it (kept that Kinect thing though, eh). After that you went all ostrich on me.
I mean, really? Really? When Mark Whitten, the product chief of the Xbox One, says something like this: “The thing that’s really gratifying is that people are excited about the types of features that are possible, and it’s sort of shame on us that we haven’t done as good of a job as we can to make people feel like that’s where we’re headed.”
You see, after Microsoft backpedaled (rightfully so), they started playing the victim. Claiming that they had a wonderful vision and they worked so hard on it. If only the fanboys would stop hating and learn to appreciate their geniusosity…..that’s when Microsoft noticed a petition asking them to go back to what they presented at E3.
There are some people who are serious and want to see Microsoft go back because they like the idea. But there are other who want to see Microsoft go back because they believe it will kill the Xbox One.
Microsoft, my dear… sweet….idiotic friend. Take another look at this survey. Heck, take a look at what you are trying to do. You want to emulate Steam, but keep the prices extremely high. Steam works because they have phenomenal sales! That’s the key to their success. Chances are, you won’t be able to emulate Steam. If you were planning awesome sales through your unique distribution or promises of lower prices because you are cutting out the middle man, then that could have worked! But did you? Nope. You didn’t.
You are missing what makes Steam so good. And instead, you’re keeping your collective heads up your rectums.
As a friend… please listen. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but it looks like you’re existing in a bubble. Do yourself a favor and take some surveys. Get feedback from your customer base. Find out what they want…
3. Don’t forget: you’re making a video game system
When you first debuted the Xbox One, you seemed to have forgotten that your system is there to play video games. That’s the function of a video game console. Sure, it has a lot of fun little things here and there… but at heart, it’s all about playing video games. Somewhere down the line, you forgot that. You pushed your dude-bro sports stuff and talked about your fantasy leagues. You talked about all the sport games that we can watch and how we all can change channels. You tried to make it look important and fancy, touting your close relationship with EA.
But really? You sorta came off as a douche.
Yes, you want to be young and stylish. I get that. We all get that. You want to be cool. But here’s the thing…. you won’t come off as cool when you’re using some 30-something yuppie looking jerkwad.
It’s about the video games. You should have stuck with that, then introduced all the nice little things after that. Show off a sport’s game. Let someone in the audience play Lebron James in NBA Live. Play Brian Urlacher in Madden. Make it interactive! That way, the gamers will feel the video game will let them be as close to the action as they can be.
We didn’t get that. We got the jerkwads talking at the Xbox to show that it listens to us. Showing us it is a good television, great at skyping, and sports! Lots of sports.
Well Microsoft, I went a bit off topic a few times. Sorry about that. But I focused on a certain theme. Find out what your customer wants. Listen to them. Collect data. Yes, you have a nice vision. But if your customers reject your vision, then it’s not a matter of you not explaining it right… it’s a matter of you not making sure you are making products your customer wants.
I hope nothing but the best for you Microsoft.
I really do.