Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will a lower Kinect price score new customers form Microsoft?

So Microsoft has decided to lower the price of their popular Kinect device from $199.99 to $109.99 in an effort to move more product and introduce new people and markets to this remarkable piece of hardware. I admit, the Kinect is pretty darn cool. And Microsoft has done an amazing job at getting the message out that 'the Kinect isn't just for playing games! You can use it in stuff like brain surgery'. That makes it even cooler. But is that cool enough to pull in new buyers at the lower price?

Not many, I predict.

At this point, pretty much everyone who owns an XBOX 360 has a Kinect. $199.99 wasn't too bad a price for what you got and the market seems pretty saturated. The real untapped (and growable) market is science and academics. Remember when I said above that the Kinect could be used in brain surgery? I wasn't kidding. Doctors have developed software to use the Kinect in various ways in the operating room and there are some pretty cool scientific uses outside of the medical community as well.

But here's the problem: academia and medicine (especially medical research) seems to be moving more and more towards Linux. The Kinect doesn't work with Linux. Yeah, there are a few hacky implementations that kinda-sorta get it to work but nobody doing serious research using Linux is going to get a Kinect. It's just not feasible.

So, in its true form, Microsoft is still alienating a whole segment of the market. These people don't care about price. Even if the Kinect were free they still wouldn't get one because it's a "Windows or Nothing" type of deal. With all the excitement around Microsoft seemingly embracing so much of open source and Linux, it's really sad to see them still clinging to the 'our way or the highway' mentality. It's time Microsoft wake up and realize that not everything has to be tied to Windows. The company could double their revenue tomorrow if they allowed more of their hardware to function on Linux or Mac. People want it, they just can't have it.

Shortly after the Soviet Union fell from Communism, there was a saying about the 'new' Russia: the new Russia looks a lot like the old Russia. Unfortunately, the same is true for the 'new' Microsoft. It sure looks a lot like the old one. And that, my friends, is really sad.

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