what Microsoft should do next
I live in an Apple world. It’s a great place where things are simple, intuitive, and just work. But I do so like my xbox. It must be how Superman feels knowing he can be frolicking with his people in a magnificent miniature Kandor, yet so enjoying his time on Earth with Jimmy and Lois (of course he also has super powers on Earth, and the whole growing up there thing… perhaps this is a flawed example…).
Before we start talking about what Microsoft should do to make us happy (and make them money), let’s agree on what sucks about the current generation of the xbox.
- The Hardware – I’ve seen every part of the xbox console break. I’ve been “red-ringed” and have had my xbox refuse to power on. My friends have had the hard drive die, the disk drive die, and even the ethernet port (somehow) die. And occasionally I’ve heard the disk drive spin with a level of such menacing sound and unchecked fury that I’m grateful it lacks the power required to open the door to dimension x23 (the home of the vampire like dinosaurs that wish to populate our lush world), which I am sure is what that evil piece of hardware is trying to do. That, or my disk drive is going to break soon =/
- The indie game (app) store – It’s great, it’s just not promoted enough or open enough. (I do realize the irony that will be seen by some in the “not open enough” complaint from an iOS developer. But seriously, the indie store is a repressive environment with an oddly dick-ish community of developers.)
- The digital content management – The digital content management, right down to account recovery, is archaic and painful. Not unlike 16th century dentistry (I feel like I should qualify this comparison somehow, instead I’ll just link to the mouth gag, which you can buy new. Scary.).
Alright, so what should they do about it?
The entertainment hub of your house should be made to last. It should also have easy access to local customer service for fixes and replacements. Entertainment hub of my house? Yes voice in my head, the central device from which you will access all your entertainment needs. Seems a lofty goal, but it is a goal that Microsoft hopes to achieve. And I fear the best way to do that is a marriage of two evils, and not in a good Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend kind of way, more like a Bella and Edward kind of way. Just a disturbingly, pale-sparkly-skinned-red-eyed-evil kind of way. Microsoft should team up with a cable provider, such as Comcast. My heart actually got a degree colder when I typed that, which I should probably look into. Why on earth should they do that?? Well self, because it will drive better hardware, provide localized support, and make it almost painfully easy to get their product into more households than the current model could dream of. It would also open up the greatness of Kinect to be a motion and voice controller for your channel surfing and DVR needs. Team this with the steps they’re already taking towards this goal, like the Netflix app, Pandora app, and so on, and you do indeed have a nice little entertainment hub. Hell, have software built in that can talk to the new wifi enabled kitchen devices, thermostats, printers, and such and you can use Kinect to wave your hands around like a rotund greek aristocrat with a horde of invisible slaves to do your bidding. Also, the new hardware should nix the CD drive, but more on that when we talk about digital content management.
The indie game (app) store needs to become more of a focus. To the point that it’s treated as important as the section housing the mainstream game developers content. And I say this not because I believe indie games should be treated equally, but because apps that can add meaningful functionality to your hub should be as important a feature of the system as the games. The obvious comparison would be an iOS device.
For instance, I would like an app that uses the Kinect to capture what I’m wearing everyday, giving me metrics on my clothing choices, what my favorite items are, what color schemes I like, and maybe even finding me clothing on-line that I may like based on what it notices. But I’m a geek. I could see how others might find an app like that… creepy. Or perhaps just weird. I have good news for those who feel that way (or the other, or some other way I didn’t mention), you don’t have to download that app =]
Digital content management needs a serious overhaul. First and foremost, there should no longer be physical disks. It’s a wasteful attack on the environment to continue to produce the disks and packaging when we live in an age where a magical medium known as “The Internet” exists. Ideally they should have a nice mix between local device storage and streaming. Where your profile is something you merely sign into when you want to play at a friend’s house, as opposed to the current way of remembering to bring a memory card, or, more likely, realizing way too late that you forgot your memory card and arriving at your friend’s house kind of bummed out because you have to go through the hassle of downloading your account to their xbox, wait for the download, and live with the knowledge that you’ll have to do it all again when you want to play at your house later. I think that counts as a #firstworldproblem, but it’s a problem none the less. I feel like I had another point to make here, but I just became slightly bummed out just thinking about xbox account recovery. It’s beer time, Stella beckons me.