Yusuf Mehdi is the man leading Microsoft's defence of Kinect - the device that the company recently dropped from one of its Xbox One offerings, enabling it to drop the price.
So, who is Yusuf Mehdi? He's Microsoft's chief marketing and strategy officer - yup, the marketing guy. And how is he spinning the dropping of Kinect
? In a number of ways, beginning with "It's a price cut" and heading all the way up to "it's about providing consumer choice, which we've now realised is a good thing" (our precis, he never said those last eight words.
For example, how long has Microsoft thought about dropping the kit? He tells Forbes
, "Over the last couple months we’ve been having discussions about how we can continue to iterate on the program."
Seriously, that was the answer to the question, "Can you say how long this unbundling announcement has been in the works?"
Next reason, "we’ve heard from a lot of our Xbox fans who say, “Hey look, I want an Xbox One, but at $499, I probably have to wait a little while before I can afford to get one.” I do think we’re going to get people now who move over, and then buy the Kinect later. So I do think the [price point] broadens the appeal and hopefully brings more people to Xbox One sooner."
Yup, it's cheaper.
So, Kinect was a mistake? "No, I think it was the right call to bundle with Kinect. In the beginning of a new console generation, you’re trying to set the bar for a new experience, and I think we did that with Xbox One. The proof is really in the usage. 80% of people are using Kinect which is remarkable compared to the last generation."
Really? How can we tell? Microsoft is yet to release sales figures for Xbox Ones but we can safely assume that fewer of them have been sold than Xbox 360s. We can also safely assume that because not all Xbox 360s were sold with Kinects but all Xbox Ones were sold with Kinects, a great percentage of Xbox One owners will use Kinects... that came with their machines.
The interesting question is: what about the 20% of people who bought Xbox Ones with Kinects but don't use them?
So, what of the future?
"The way I look at it is that you should take a five year vision. I think in five years, we will laugh at any computing device you can’t walk up to and talk to. Voice is going to be there for all devices. We’re a pioneer with Kinect in the living room. And it’s not just voice, and it’s voice and biometric ID. The ability to pioneer that, and with the success we’ve had so far with five million people, it’s remarkable. We feel great about it.
"And look, we’re going to learn a lot, and our partners are going to learn a lot, and our customers are going to learn a lot, and we’re going to continue to shape it. But I think we’re breaking a lot of new ground and we’re delighted with the progress."
You heard it today folks: "in five years, we will laugh at any computing device you can’t walk up to and talk to..." says Microsoft.
50p says people won't.