Microsoft doesn’t need to tell us; we already know. Sony’s PlayStation 4 has a commanding lead over Xbox One in global console sales. While speaking at the 2015 GeekWire Summit, Xbox chief Phil Spencer was asked if the Xbox One could make a trick come-from-behind move to eventually overtake the PlayStation 4.
Spencer’s response was about as humbling as you could expect. “You know, I don't know. You know, the length of the generation. They [Sony] have a huge lead and they have a good product.” As of November 2014, Microsoft had shipped 10 million Xbox One consoles — the company, interestingly enough, hasn’t given an official status update since the time. Perhaps we’ll hear something next month. As for Sony, it has shipped over 25 million PS4s as of July 2015 [PDF].
Things are about to get even tougher for the Xbox One. We have to remember that the PlayStation 4 has been dominating the Xbox One in sales despite the fact that the latter had a $50 pricing advantage for nearly a year. Starting today, the PlayStation 4 now starts at $349, which is likely to turbocharge sales into the holiday shopping season.
Spencer went on to state how Microsoft fumbled the lead-up to the launch of the Xbox One (remember the “always-online” and DRM requirements that were eventually dropped) and how it soured many gamers from the start.
“[We] fundamentally lost... the trust of our most loyal customers,” Spencer went on to say about the Xbox One’s launch. “We lost the trust in them that they were at the center of our decision-making process. Were we building a product for us, or were we building a product for the gamers?
“You lose your customer's assumption that the reason you're building your product is to delight them and not just build a better and more maybe manipulative product.”
The entire interview is rather sobering and goes into detail about the internal turmoil that persisted throughout the Xbox division, which explains why some executives left and leadership changes were made to right the ship. But as Spencer explains, the damage had already been done.
“That perception that gets set early on, because consumers have five seconds to internalize your brand and your message and then they move on,” Spencer continued. “They're not going to spend time to read what we say afterwards.”