Xbox 360 IM, just a ploy to sell peripherals

36 Comments

Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger for Xbox 360, announced earlier today, might sound cool to some, but to us it seems like a ploy to sell more high-margin peripherals, like keyboards, thereby boosting company’s game division revenues. After all, that tactic has worked well for Apple and its iPod line-up.

controllerxbox.pngIt is a wily move by Microsoft – after all, to instant message someone you would need a QWERTY keyboard-based device, which no surprise, Microsoft will start selling later this summer at an undisclosed price as an attachment to existing controllers.

Unless the first 10 million 360 adopters upgrade their controllers, don’t expect ubiquitous IM use from them. Even then, it’s unlikely what is being sold as a game machine will transform into a secondary messaging box over night – if ever.

In the interim, gamers will need to rely on the cumbersome on-screen virtual keyboard to communicate with friends. Yeah right – trigger happy gamers are going to do that.

36 Comments

Joseph Wallis

I think what is going to make WLM killer on the 360 is the fact that the voice is configured for you already. One hurdle with WLM on the PC is the cumbersome configuration of video and sound. I think this is going to make voice chat on WLM more prevalent. If MS does the right thing and adds Live Vision camera support to the WLM client, 360 users can make video calls to PC users. That is the ultimate killer app and I think it will go a long ways to bridging the console PC gap they are aiming for.

Greg

u guys are idiots….this thing is gonna be tight and ur just mad cause u don’t have ne friends to talk to over it….so quit ur whining and go complain about the PS3….o wait that already sucks enough….

Steve

I for one just want a browser. I don’t care what anyone thinks because I love my 360. I will probably just go with the usb keyboard because it is much easier to type on and I am sure it will be cheaper.

Bob

I doubt the masses will move to xbox360 solely for IM. But I imagine that a decent enough number of xbox360 owners will use it for IM in the future. If they add browsing then it is possible that it could get bought as a “computer” if all one needed was email, surfing, light office work that can be done at google. Problem is that a “real” computer with monitor and printer can get had for considerably less than $480 (Elite).

But as they keep adding features it improves the value.

Any reports on how much the controller keypad will cost? I would guess $19.99–but that is just a guess.

Blake Snow

I think it’s obvious by the comment turnout that my original post could have been better worded. My mistake.

I still find it hard to believe that the masses will ultimately start using their 360’s as a messaging and text input device akin to PCs or Blackberries.

The million dollar question is if the move helps MS solidify it’s “game machine” as a legitimate and in-demand living room pc. Time will tell.

Liz

I wonder if SweetIM will work on this new windows live messenger ! (on that case I can throw away my pc…)

Liz

Bob

You can plug a USB keyboard directly into the xbox360–you don’t have to buy this attachemnt. Like I said earlier. Which I guess you finally admitted. Lots of people have extra keyboards laying around. However integrating it into the controller is pretty smart.

Chat, chat within games. more controls.

Heck–if they include a browser than you have a decent little computer there. Browsing, webmail, wordprocessing/spreadsheets at google.

MS is giving the users more value for their money–you can bet a browser is in the works.

This isn’t a ploy to sell the keyboard despite what you might want to believe. They will sell the keyboard and make a profit on it–but that is secondary to the big picture–selling more xbox360s. This will help a little–by making it more compelling. That is the point.

zuneone

Web Browser…
Web Browser…
Web Browser…

If Microsoft (or Firefox for that matter) can give us an Xbox 360 browser I won’t need to buy that fancy media center PC.

Count me in on this accessory!

Victor

Blake,

I think you’re thinking pretty narrowly about games. Think G A M E S — the broad audience. Many many games go well with IM. Remember there is a gaming world on PC’s that VERY VERY mature and includes chat features. Blake — people have posted here that ARE XBOX users that do use chat.

-Victor

Randall Bennett

I’m one of the rare owners of an xbox360 who used a USB keyboard for messaging already, and I think the real boon for this accessory is the 360’s lack of mmorpgs. A keyboard accessory adds 26 buttons, perfect for additional programmability within games needing more than the standard 8 buttons.

Meta comment–

Why is it the gaming threads bring out the love/hate?

Nick Hawkins

I’m sure this will move some units. Microsoft isn’t a big bunch of fools as everyone believes. The 360 is turning out to be a nice piece of hardware that’s expanded past gaming. And considering the amount of bizarre crap that’s being marketed as Xbox accessories, this is more welcome than most.

People are forgetting that Microsoft isn’t trying to go for quick wins. They’re going to for long and protracted battles for market share. Every little addon helps leverage their dominance at the home.

I would have liked to have seen Blake’s tone be way different. He comes across as more of a sniveling brat than anything. Somehow it’s not cool and this accessory will be shot down and somehow it’s bad for a business to make money? I don’t get it.

Blake Snow

With regards to USB keyboards in existence on 360, how many gamers keep a keyboard handy when playing games? If not a majority, It’ll be tough for Microsoft to get its userbase to adopt to IM, even with the add-on.

Regarding the “choice” argument, Microsoft will reap the benefits of selling additional hardware to whom wants it. As Om said, a for-profit enterprise is simply doing something to earn more money. This isn’t a charity.

Dave Zatz

Of course it’s a ploy to sell more peripherals (more Xboxes too). Unlike a large percentage of Web 2.0 stuff, these guys have a business model and would like to make some money. ;) I think the keyboard controll add-on looks nice, but hey for those who don’t want to spend the money pick up a USB keyboard for cheap.

Dave

Ploy? You do realize you can already use a standard usb keyboard on the 360 right? What a dumbass article.

Evan

It looks cool in theory but the keyboard insert shown seems like it is going to screw up the natural grip points of the controller.

Andrew

I totally agree with this post….hahahah I can’t even type that with a straight face. This article is BOGUS. Really you have no clue, just look at the response.

Pending any real flaws like diminished battery life or adding 5 lbs to the controller, this product looks great. I hate virtual keyboards as I’m sure most people do. I would even venture to say people would buy this just as much as people would the 120 GB HD (as long as its not way over priced). and yes of course it will make M$ money.

In short this will be a good investment both for 360 owners as ell as it developer…..oh yeah and for the future…if you don’t know what you’re talking about….Shut The F**k Up

Victor

Ridiculous. The Xbox competes directly with Microsoft’s customers (Dell, Sony, et. al.) in terms of media center computing. It may not look like a computer but it is. And I think you are VERY wrong about IM while sharing videos, music, and gaming. It IS FUN — and COMMON to IM while sharing online experiences. It makes PERFECT sense to have these devices available from BOTH microsoft and third parties. My only surprise is that Bluetooth isn’t just built right into it to begin with.

ErneX

You totally missed the point of this accessory. This keyboard goes along a new feature of the spring dashboard update that will allow you to text the contacts of your Messenger account. And be able to do that without quitting the game or having to open the dashboard.

There will be a new floating dialog in which you will be able to quickly text people without disrupting gameplay.

penn

its a peripheral, an optional attachment, a convenience for those who find the current set up inconvenient.

I dont use msn messenger on xbox or windows. So the virtual keyboard is all i need at present. if I do decide to use msn messenger…then this is the way to go for me.
I dont want to have to keep a keyboard at my side just to text people.

It looks good, it works well with the controller. The buttons are a good size (a little bigger than standard qwerty phone keyboards….

Andrew Schmitt

IM is a killer app in the Xbox audience. Adding the Xbox as yet another presence location will help MS messenger immensely.

I am more interested in what other applications happen once the Xbox has a keyboard.

Om Malik

Tim,

Ploy is a strategy and no where does blake suggest that there is anything wrong with it. As far as Apple is concerned, he does make a point that it worked for Apple. Similarly it should work for Microsoft too.

Om Malik

Phil,

no disagreement there – it will sell, and as we said, going to make money for microsoft. which is a good thing because microsoft is a for-profit enterprise.

Phil Rack

I disagree with you Blake. I think this will sell like hotcakes! Considering the media ambitions (HD-DVD) that MS has and that it’s going to be likely placed in the living room, a keyboard is just another logical extension to the system. I would love to see a wireless keyboard for the Xbox 360.

I also would be happy to bet you that many of the Xbox 360 owners already have an MSN Live account so signing them up is no big deal.

Om Malik

I don’t Microsoft is doing anything wrong: concerted company effort to make more money by selling more peripherals, and there is nothing wrong with that.

It is a smart business ploy on their part.

tim

if Microsoft does it, it’s a ploy. If Apple does it, it’s a cool new peripheral.

I agree with Drew that this peripheral is handy for a whole host of reasons. the console is begging for a keyboard. search for movies and tv shows (music?) ftw!

Blake Snow

Bob/Mark/Drew,

Points taken. But Xbox 360 owners will still have to purchase the add-on (as noted in the post) to realistically chat with others.

Sensational headline aside, it’s unlikely that Microsoft can gain significant traction to truly facilitate a healthy chat community on Live despite their lofty living-room ambitions. Doing it this late in the game only compounds the challenge of having people actually use the chat service, especially considering the already working and easier-to-use VOIP.

It’s difficult for any company to implement text features after first launching without a keyboard. Microsoft will only face the same challenges. Yes, it’s nice, but is it really that important (read: will it significantly help the 360’s chances)?

If it’s just “nice,” then its being sold as a value-ad with nice profit margins.

drew

I don’t own a console; but I think this post is a little over the top in terms of making accusations at MS? I find it a pretty interesting development and its certainly an extension of the 360’s overall capability.

Gee, it might also be nice to be able to have a qwerty pad to do other non-gaming, non-IM type features on the 360. Like search for media or TV shows.

Mark

what are you talking about? it plugs in to the headset jack in the controller…no need to buy a newer controller!!!!

Bob

Umm–you DO realize you can plug any USB keyboard in, right? I guess that sort of ruins your whole point.

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