Who Is It Made For?
The Microsoft Kinect was made for undershot consumers. Undershot consumers are consumers “for whom existing products are not good enough.” They will “consume a product but are frustrated with its limitations.” like the PlayStation 3, customers who purchased an Xbox 360 wanted powerful hardware and superb graphics. The Nintendo Wii, released in 2006, provided a new experience but not enough power and capability. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 also failed to provide the motion technology utilized by the Wii, limiting the user experience to traditional button controllers.
These undershot customers may have wanted the motion capability provided by the Wii, but not enough to sacrifice hardware performance. These consumers had no options under these circumstances. Now that the Kinect is awaiting release this winter, these undershot customers can have the motion sensing technology of the Wii, PlayStation Eye, and the hardware performance of the Xbox 360. These customers don’t mind paying the $149.99 on top of what they paid for the console for the added features. However, the Kinect’s controllerless nature is so hands off that it remains to be seen whether even undershot customers will want to purchase it.
Signals of Change
As discussed before with Sony, the signals of change listed by Christensen for sustaining up-market innovations are: 1) New, improved products and services introduced to existing customers; 2) Integrated companies thrive; specialist companies struggle. The Kinect easily fits the first signal of change listed by Christensen. The Xbox Kinect is a new and improved product introduced to existing Xbox 360 customers. It is not a standalone console like the Nintendo Wii, but an add on. Therefore, only existing Xbox 360 users can utilize the Kinect’s added features.
The second signal of change focuses more on the company as opposed to the product. Microsoft and Sony were essentially on opposite sides of the fence in regards to issues related to their gaming consoles. While Sony struggled with the software aspect, Microsoft thrived. It had more big name titles for immediate release and a well designed online community. Not surprising since Microsoft is a software company and Sony is a hardware company. Where Microsoft dropped the ball was with the hardware. Many users encountered what was named the “red ring of death.” The red ring of death resulted when the console would overheat for seemingly no reason, creating a red color around the power button. Although Microsoft has made improvements to the durability of the Xbox 360, users are still reporting overheating as an issue despite a product refresh this year. Like Sony, Microsoft is on the path to greater integration, actively working on its shortcomings to become a more complete company in the video game industry.