Microsoft’s Windows Everywhere challenge – rebranding the Xbox

I’ve been doing competitive analysis between Apple and Microsoft re: the fight for hearts and minds and the results have been fascinating (and in some cases surprising).

I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of that analysis over the coming weeks but today I want to talk about Windows Everywhere.

Windows Everywhere is the unofficial strategy that Microsoft have adopted about getting Microsoft products adopted everywhere (home, business, work, play, phone, tablet etc)

In August of 2011, I wrote about the evolution of Microsoft. In that article, I wrote about how I thought Microsoft was moving in the right direction as they slowly but surely started to unify their OS platform.

Windows on Phones, Windows on PC’s, Windows at home, Windows on laptops, Windows on tablets and Windows on Servers.

A pretty impressive spread with much wider potential reach than Apple’s unified platform.

Apple have phones, tablets, PC’s, laptops and the home (Apple TV) and they also have done a pretty good job.

Let’s focus on Apple and Microsoft in the home

I have an Apple TV box.

An Apple TV Box

An Apple TV Box

It’s small, non intrusive, cheap ($99) and incredibly effective at what it does. It’s function is to be a bridge to my TV for all my Apple devices.

It also has all the multimedia addons (Netflix, Apple Trailers etc) that we have come to expect and now, we stream movies from our iPads to our TV regularly.

We also use the device to look at photos etc. It’s effective.

Microsoft on the other hand, have the Xbox which is wildly successful.

It has the multimedia accoutrements as well and I expect there will be more detailed phone, tablet and PC integration in the future.

In fact this quote from Thenextweb  shows how well the Xbox is doing:

Today Microsoft made it known that its Xbox franchise has reached a fresh milestone: entertainment usage on the devices has surpassed multiplayer gaming for the first time.

PCMag manage to extract some granular information from Microsoft concerning market usage of the Xbox console: “since new entertainment apps were added to the Xbox 360 in December, total hours spent on Xbox Live have increased 30 percent year over year, while entertainment app usage has more than doubled in the same period. Gold members in the U.S. also average 84 hours every month on Xbox Live.” Those figure are impressive, and insinuate that the Xbox has become a device that people of nearly all ages enjoy.

Gone are the days of young gamers pining after the latest gaming gadget; the Xbox 360 is needed by the whole family. The old joke seems to be real after all: the older you get, the more your Xbox 360 turns into a Netflix Box.

Sounds great right?

But not so fast. There’s a slight problem.

While the data shows that people who have an Xbox are using it as a multimedia device, it’s still branded as a video game device.

When you hear Xbox, you associate that with video games and the PS 3 comes to mind as a competitor.

Going forward, I believe that’s a problem.

From a marketing perspective, it’s hard to effectively dual brand a product.

You can’t really say buy this because it plays video games and also connects to the web and lets you watch movies etc.

That message works well for attracting video gamers but doesn’t appeal to the non gaming general public.

I think that Microsoft have 2 options.

  1. Keep the Xbox branding the same and come up with an affordable Apple TV clone.
  2. Rebrand the Xbox as a multimedia device that plays video games – More difficult

I believe that the next generation of the Xbox will be rebranded in 2013 – heck the name might even change to Homebox 8 or something (wild guess).

It would be a brand new start to introducing Microsoft as a hub in the home as well as providing continuity to current Xbox users and subscribers.

That’s my thesis for today.

What say you? Does that make sense?

Let me know in the comments below…

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