Nat Brown, the man behind the original Xbox during its early stages of development at Microsoft, took to his blog Tuesday afternoon to tear into the current course of the Xbox 360, accusing the software giant of "coasting on pass momentum."
"But the past five years, and the last year in particular, have been simply painful to watch," he said. "Failing to innovate and failing to capitalize on innovations like Kinect. Touting strategic and market success when you're just experiencing your competitor's stumbling failure (yes, Sony, Nintendo -- you are, I'm afraid, stumbling failures). A complete lack of tactical versus strategic understanding of the long game of the living room."
Microsoft is living in a naive dream-world.
Brown wrote what set him off was Microsoft's announcement earlier this week of the opening of a Los Angeles studio that will be aimed at creating interactive content for what is believed to be the next generation console, Durango. Brown admits -- as is common knowledge -- that Microsoft entered the console race back in 2001 to capture the living room, ensuring Sony didn't move in and push out Microsoft. After the failing of WebTV, Brown said the Xbox -- or xBox as he calls it -- was the perfect "Trojan horse."
"My gripe, my head-smack, is not that the broader content/entertainment business isn’t where you want to go with a living-room-connected device. It absolutely is," he said. "No, more and better content was always the point and the plan. My gripe is that, as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting and their supply-lines are broken."
In his long tirade, Brown also lashed out against what he calls a "creaky" dashboard, its lack of development tools for independent small-time developers and its overall sales strategy going into the future. He believes Microsoft has concentrated all of its focus on securing exclusive entertainment rights with media groups and Hollywood studios, and is missing what made the Xbox popular to begin with -- video games. He ultimately believes Apple will swoop in with an updated Apple TV and take both sectors for itself.
"These are the two fronts Microsoft is going to lose on in the living room battle with Android and iOS. It’s not going to be based on whether they have (a more expensive) Netflix, whether they have original TV/video content or interactive kids television shows which integrate with Kinect. They will lose unless these two things are sorted out well and quickly," he said. "Microsoft is living in a naive dream-world. I have heard people still there arguing that the transition of the brand from hardcore gamers to casual users and tv-uses was an intentional and crafted success. It was not. It was an accident of circumstance that Microsoft is neither leveraging nor in control of. Xbox was for years the only network-connected HD-ready device already attached to TVs that had multi-use potential (games, DVD, Netflix) in the household to justify and amortize its high cost of purchase to the family’s bread-winners"