Why Microsoft’s Kinect Is Going To Make A Big Splash


Credit: Microsoft Xbox Kinect

I’m in the business of identifying when there’s a change in the wind coming that will push us in a new direction. On balance, I’ve been successful. So much so, that when something I staked my career on becomes commonplace, people are so used to it that they look back and think I was only pointing out the obvious. Like when the most senior faculty member in the advertising department at Syracuse University rejected the “Interactive Advertising” course I proposed to teach in 1996 because online advertising was “just a fad.” I took a stand and got to teach the class, over his objections. Fast forward to today and online advertising is so obvious that predicting it is a thankless task.

I say this because I am about to take a stand I want you to remember. Ready? Starting Nov. 4th, Kinect for Xbox 360 will usher us into a new era Forrester has entitled the Era of Experience. This is an era in which we will revolutionize the digital home and everything that goes along with it. It starts by completely altering the way people consume home media that were only linear and nonparticipatory before now because there was no other way to engage them otherwise. But once there

This article originally appeared in Forrester Research.



would of been a much better article if you didn’t write it like a egotistical maniac. “Because I want credit? No, I accept that in 10 years” = damaged goods!

seriously, you’ve posted this on the 20th Oct 2010, wow how very insightful of you. look interesting points, but I’ve been listening to the creators themselves talking about some of these ideas since last year. And you’re trying to claim credit for them….I hope for your sake James McQuivey is your alias.


+1 Gabor! (+2 Dr. Bill)…

@James – “the first user interface innovation not invented by Apple”? Seriously? You did just mention the mouse, right? And of course the window-ing OS… These both came out of Xerox, and there are other examples, too. I do agree with your meta-point, but comments like that do undermine your credibility somewhat.

Gabor Fari

I can also see many multi-touch functionalities on the screen just being replaced by Kinect gestures. Remember: there is the sound control part too. Kinect can eventually bring Natural User Experiences to conventional PC’s equipped with a keyboard, camera and microphone.

Gabor Fari

Totally agree with Dr. Bill. Once you have played enough with Kinect to understand what it can do, and then you can project this technology being built into other devices and miniaturized, you can imagine the vast potential!


“Kungfuian, you’re missing an important detail: 40 million homes worldwide have an xbox 360. That’s waaay more than the iPads that will sell over the next 2-3 years yet people think the iPad is causing a revolution (which it is). My point is that this additional accessory will prove successfully precisely because it is connected to the xbox.”

I couldn’t disagree more. The install base of the 360 may be 40+ Million, but we aren’t talking about how many 360 are sold or how popular/successful the 360 is (can you say hardcore gamers). We’re talking about Kinect and its potential sales (can you say casuals).

Anyone with logical business sense would know that using the 360 as a launching place for the Kinect significantly limits its Success. It’s simple math really, the 360 platform’s 40m install base actually limits the number of potential customers, and therefore Kinect’s sales. (Even the best game/accessory has an attach rate of 10-25%,. There’s no evidence to suggest Kinect will do any better.) Why chase after 40million customers when u can try to sell to them all!!!!

The x-box/360 name similarly limits Kinect’s success. X-box/360 is synonymous with hardcore gaming. So why try to re-brand an already existing piece of exipment marketed at hardcore gamers than launch a new one. Why Microsoft thinks they can piggyback off of the success of the 360 name is a mystery to me. They would’ve been way better off dropping the X-box name all together and re-launching the entire thing as a stand alone system (something that incorporates Kinect and the essential components of 360).

Like I said before, if you want a revolution that puppy has to be in every box from day one, or better yet build it into the hardware. If Microsoft was smart they would’ve made it a stand alone plug and play type product that works on every TV, computer, etc. Otherwise, it’s just another cool accessory.

James McQ

Kungfuian, you’re missing an important detail: 40 million homes worldwide have an xbox 360. That’s waaay more than the iPads that will sell over the next 2-3 years yet people think the iPad is causing a revolution (which it is). My point is that this additional accessory will prove successfully precisely because it is connected to the xbox. And not necessarily with the hardcore gamers you describe, but the 2 other people in the average xbox home, the same people who now routinely fire up the xbox to watch netflix, something that other people thought would flop for xbox.

Tom, don’t know why you’re trying to construe product control as a failure of the device. Does apple send out iPads to people to try before the launch date? No. But Microsoft has let thousands of people demo this system at conferences — and I have the developer kit from PrimeSense that the kinect 3D vision is built on and I can guarantee you it works. Quite well, actually.

So maybe Chad was a bit raw in his language, but he is 100% right. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I have yet to see people try it and not come away awed by it.

Chad Z

I’ve played with kinect at the Microsoft store in Scottsdale, Arizona and it’s sick to be honest with you guys ….. If you haven’t played it …. Then keep your mouth shut …. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover ….. There is no lag like ppl say… It is so much fun …. And you don’t need tons of room to play it’s STANDARD for anybody who plays video games, unless you love to sit infront of your tv and go blind… It’s so lame all the crap ppl talk about Kinect and they have never even seen or played one in real life …. And by the way I love Shooters and blood in my games. I’m no little kid I’m 24. I’m up for innovation and Kinect is. And just wait till there are 3D Kinect games its the next step to VR !!! So if you just want to hate on Kinect … Wait till you play it first, then talk crap fools

Tom Ato

Kinect will be the biggest technology flop since HD – DVD. The very idea of waving your arms and legs around like some escaped mental patient just to play a game is ludicrous. Then there’s the small fact that the technology doesn’t actually WORK.

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft have issued a strict review embargo on Kinect and are refusing to send out Kinect hardware or Kinect games for review. Why would they do something like that? Because Microsoft know that their product is a faulty piece of crap and are trying to pull the wool over consumers eyes until launch day.

Kinect will launch to a unanimous “Yawn” and will likely end up being the most returned product in history.

Joe Black

I limit screen time. Private eyes are watching and not sure I want screen watching 24/7. I’m a print person. Still life on 100 proof and down playing with the fuzzbox, moving it in and out. I heard it on the X. Stay wet girls and boys.


All minority report fantasies aside. Back here in reality the 360’s install base will have the most significant impact on the success of this device. Even if it’s the second coming of Christ, because kinect’s not in every box, at best they will sell to 10-25% of the 360’s install base, The revolution doesn’t happen if it’s not included with every system (ask 32x, sega cd, eyetoy, etc, etc, )

Also, Microsoft can not just change the Branding of their x-box platform midstream and hope to steal Nintendo’s audience. The casuals buy Nintendo because it’s branded as a family friendly company and their software kicks ass. Microsoft’s audience is hardcore gamers, they have little to no experience making casual software, and all the marketing in the world can’t change that fast enough for Kinect’s launch.

bill gates

clearly groundbreaking. i can assure you this will only show up on MS properties as MS is building the worlds biggest patent thicket around its kinect innovations.


If kinect’s motion sensor is as precise and as perfect as what we’ve seen in the demo, your prediction is at the pinnacle of reality. :)

iOS and Android apps to interact with Kinect? It’s quite a blur but there’s a possibility.

But what if Apple, Google, and Sony will invent a better Kinect-like device? Hmmmmmm…

James McQ

Avatar Roku: My job is to tell Microsoft what’s right to do, even if it’s hard for them to swallow. Note that Google TV has developed an iPad app, which is the same spirit I’m pushing Microsoft to adopt. (It’s not unprecedented, putting Netflix on the Xbox was a brave example of going where the people are rather than expecting them to sign up for a Microsoft product.) Still, though, you’re right about the Windows Phone 7 timing. But even if it’s unlikely, it’s my responsibility to point them in the right direction.

Avatar Roku

Microsoft develop iOS and Android apps to work with Kinect, huh? Are you not aware of this new MS mobile operating system called Windows Phone 7? It’s releasing at the same time as Kinect and MS is spending $400 million to advertise it. I seriously doubt MS will make Android apps for Kinect. The only precedent is that they made a Bing app for Android and iOS.

James McQ

Rodrigo, very sound points. Especially the point about Kinect in non-American homes, I will keep my eye on that one. And you’re very right about Microsoft having a closed platform. That will have to change for Kinect to work — something I say in the report is that the Xbox has to think of itself as an app platform where free and $5 apps can become commonplace rather than the $50 games currently coming out for Kinect.

Rodrigo Dauster

Kinect is fantastic. I couldn’t get enough of it. But, alas, I think it wil not be as successful as it could for two reasons:
1. Space requirements. The players need to be quite far from the screen. This might work in large American homes but it doesn’t at my perfectly average UK home (or none of my friends). I imagine it will be similarly challenged in Asia where apartments are even smaller.
2. Microsoft’s closed-platform ethos. As you mentioned, this, Kinect could be a lot more than a XBox controller. But, from what I understand, Microsoft has, so far, made them sure that it be a closed platform. Microsoft has no history in opening their platforms to “hackers.”


i dont use a keyboard or mouse when i talk to or colaborate with other people in RL. kinect resembles more the natural communication and therefor it’s easier and in many cases better. altough i fear that the current release will not be as responsive and 1 to 1 as needed. for games for example, i think its possible you would need a periferall to make the interaction for some things better.

when you include the milo program (altough needs improvement i think) the xbox will become a person wich can provide you with all kinds of survices, or make at easy to acces other excisting services. it’ll be your guide/link to the entire online world.



In a few weeks, Call of Duty Black Ops that has the very old first person shooter format will break another video game sales record. I get tired of hearing geeks who get paid to write “cool what-if” scenarios who don’t get fired for being wrong..


I said the same thing about seeing Kinect Technology in our homes and cars about 6 months ago. No one believed me, glad to find someone who shares the same thoughts.


“Kinect is to multitouch user interfaces what the mouse was to DOS” and “Apple TV is an iPad peripheral”. All i can say is – Whoaa. I guess i can now fully trust your analysis.

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