Microsoft is dropping the Xbox One price by $100.00 to better compete with Sony's PlayStation 4, according to a May 13 report in The Register. Microsoft is also freeing streaming apps from behind the Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Starting June 9 Microsoft will bring the Xbox One price down to $399.00 by eliminating Kinect, Microsoft's voice and gesture controller for Xbox One. When Microsoft initially released Xbox One, Microsoft claimed that Kinect was essential to the new Xbox One user experience.
Apparently, Kinect did not live up to the hype. Few players use Kinect for more than simply issuing voice commands to power Xbox One on and off. According to Microsoft, the most popular Xbox One Kinect commands are “Xbox On," “Xbox record that” and “Xbox broadcast."
Few developers have created games based on Kinect control. What's more, the Kinect based games that have been developed are not very popular.
Kinect is important in Microsoft's vision, though. Microsoft will still sell Xbox One with Kinect bundled in a premium package.
By cutting the price of Xbox One by $100.00 in another option, Microsoft puts Xbox One on the same $399.00 price level as PlayStation 4. Both consoles went on sale in November 2014, but the PS4 has sold about four million more units than Xbox One worldwide.
In North America, however, the contest for market share between Microsoft and Sony is very close. This price cut can only help Microsoft in its competition with Sony for console market dominance, at least in North America.
When customers buy Xbox One without Kinect they will have the option this fall of purchasing Kinect as an accessory. Kinect lets users use voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in (like the “Touch ID” found in Apple's iPhone 5s) and other non-keyboard interactions.
Microsoft is also dropping its requirement that users first purchase a Live Gold subscription ($60.00 annually) before being able to access “Netflix," “Hulu Plus," “YouTube” and other streaming apps. It is free to access streaming apps on PS4 and, of course, it is free on set-top boxes like Apple TV.