Apple guy says standing in line “is strange”

We’re having a good laugh about Chuq Von Rospach’s latest post. Here’s what he said: “And as to the folks standing in line — I don’t personally care what the product is or who’s company benefits, the folks who do that are strange.”

I love these strange customers! They are standing in line to fork over $400. I want more strange customers! I still remember when I stood overnight just to get tickets to Star Wars. The line was more fun than the movie! (I was standing next to two founders of Hotmail).

Did Chuq just call Apple customers (who are famous for standing in lines just to get into their stores) “strange?” Well, yes he did! And that’s why we’re having a good laugh.

I’m just jealous I didn’t hop in line at 8 a.m. yesterday too. Damn this Xbox is cool!

Comments

  1. Get help! Fast! Standing inline to see Star Wars? It’s just a movie. You did understand that was not going to be the only showing, right? You also realize that come PS3 time, the 360 will be widely avaiable and just as functional, right? No one cares how soon you will get one, or if you have one or want one.

  2. Get help! Fast! Standing inline to see Star Wars? It’s just a movie. You did understand that was not going to be the only showing, right? You also realize that come PS3 time, the 360 will be widely avaiable and just as functional, right? No one cares how soon you will get one, or if you have one or want one.

  3. dmad: if you think I was sick there were people who waited in line for weeks.

    Actually, saying “no one” is totally false. I’ve had tons of people around the world asking if I could get them an Xbox before Christmas.

  4. dmad: if you think I was sick there were people who waited in line for weeks.

    Actually, saying “no one” is totally false. I’ve had tons of people around the world asking if I could get them an Xbox before Christmas.

  5. The ironic thing is that the folks waiting in line to purchase a Nano actually contribute to Apple’s continued profitability (and growth).

    Every 360 sold is done so at a loss. Will this be the $4 billion albatross that the first Xbox was?

  6. The ironic thing is that the folks waiting in line to purchase a Nano actually contribute to Apple’s continued profitability (and growth).

    Every 360 sold is done so at a loss. Will this be the $4 billion albatross that the first Xbox was?

  7. Just tell me why producing an abundance for a soft market and a shortage for your principal market is a good idea.

    MS had to absolutely NAIL this launch. PS3 is going to eviscerate the 360 when it launches (based on PS1 and PS2′s dominance), and a large installed user base was MS’ only hope to combat it. Boxes on the shelves in Japan aren’t helping.

    If the XBox was the number one console (as the iPod is the number one DAP), you could shrug this off, but once we’re past Christmas, the big dollars have already been spent and people are just counting down the days until the PS3 launch after having bought PSPs or iPods for their loved ones for Christmas.

    And I’m plenty strange but also recognize that anyone who cannot do the simple math of supply (number of units in the store) vs. demand (5x that number outside, in the freezing cold) is indeed stupid.

    It doesn’t matter how many people are willing to stand in the cold if you cannot get them the item they want to buy $400 for. That money will just go somewhere else. And that’s not something to love, that’s something to get upset about.

    Sorry Robert… you’re sounding desperately like a spin doctor in these replies to Chuq’s post.

  8. Just tell me why producing an abundance for a soft market and a shortage for your principal market is a good idea.

    MS had to absolutely NAIL this launch. PS3 is going to eviscerate the 360 when it launches (based on PS1 and PS2′s dominance), and a large installed user base was MS’ only hope to combat it. Boxes on the shelves in Japan aren’t helping.

    If the XBox was the number one console (as the iPod is the number one DAP), you could shrug this off, but once we’re past Christmas, the big dollars have already been spent and people are just counting down the days until the PS3 launch after having bought PSPs or iPods for their loved ones for Christmas.

    And I’m plenty strange but also recognize that anyone who cannot do the simple math of supply (number of units in the store) vs. demand (5x that number outside, in the freezing cold) is indeed stupid.

    It doesn’t matter how many people are willing to stand in the cold if you cannot get them the item they want to buy $400 for. That money will just go somewhere else. And that’s not something to love, that’s something to get upset about.

    Sorry Robert… you’re sounding desperately like a spin doctor in these replies to Chuq’s post.

  9. I have to second adi. Chuq isn’t a spokesperson for Apple, stop trying to frame it like that.

    And him calling people strange for standing in line is far better than if he had tried to backpedal, or retract, or whatever.

  10. I have to second adi. Chuq isn’t a spokesperson for Apple, stop trying to frame it like that.

    And him calling people strange for standing in line is far better than if he had tried to backpedal, or retract, or whatever.

  11. Robert,

    Sorry, but waiting in line for hours and days just to be number 1223445 to get…a video game…is strange. Oh, and don’t confuse MacMacs with the rest of the Mac users. They’re just the strangest. Of course, you’ve confused “Being a Mac user” with “Can’t possibly know a damned thing about Windows” before. But you do that a lot. You get to spinning, and bang, accuracy, schmaccuracy.

    But honestly, who cares about the Xbox? Their selection of good games for younger kids is pretty appalling. Same thing with the PSWhatever. But I am kinda excited about the Revolution for one reason, and it’s right there on http://www.nintendo.com/revolution:

    Revolution will play all of your favorite Nintendo GameCube games, and deliver downloadable access to 20 years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

    Dude, you can crow about HD and all the rest like it matters, but the Xbox doesn’t have anything CLOSE to the crack that is Super Mario Brothers. Me? I want my Pokemon Colosseum back, that’s just hilarity in a box.

    Yeah, yeah, graphics, surround sound, blah, blah stuff it. The game industry hasn’t come up with anything to beat the sheer FUN of what people came out with when they were resource limited to such a degree that they had to make games fun to play. The only ones that have come close on the PS2 side are the Baldur’s Gate ports, because making the characters jump around like little crackheads and supplying Beavis and Butthead dialog is fun, and would be fun regardless of graphics quality.

    You can keep Halo and all the rest. There’s hundreds of millions of people just waiting to get their hands on this old school crack. You know what? If Xbox had a complete Colecovision collection, I’d buy one today.

  12. Robert,

    Sorry, but waiting in line for hours and days just to be number 1223445 to get…a video game…is strange. Oh, and don’t confuse MacMacs with the rest of the Mac users. They’re just the strangest. Of course, you’ve confused “Being a Mac user” with “Can’t possibly know a damned thing about Windows” before. But you do that a lot. You get to spinning, and bang, accuracy, schmaccuracy.

    But honestly, who cares about the Xbox? Their selection of good games for younger kids is pretty appalling. Same thing with the PSWhatever. But I am kinda excited about the Revolution for one reason, and it’s right there on http://www.nintendo.com/revolution:

    Revolution will play all of your favorite Nintendo GameCube games, and deliver downloadable access to 20 years of fan-favorite titles originally released for Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

    Dude, you can crow about HD and all the rest like it matters, but the Xbox doesn’t have anything CLOSE to the crack that is Super Mario Brothers. Me? I want my Pokemon Colosseum back, that’s just hilarity in a box.

    Yeah, yeah, graphics, surround sound, blah, blah stuff it. The game industry hasn’t come up with anything to beat the sheer FUN of what people came out with when they were resource limited to such a degree that they had to make games fun to play. The only ones that have come close on the PS2 side are the Baldur’s Gate ports, because making the characters jump around like little crackheads and supplying Beavis and Butthead dialog is fun, and would be fun regardless of graphics quality.

    You can keep Halo and all the rest. There’s hundreds of millions of people just waiting to get their hands on this old school crack. You know what? If Xbox had a complete Colecovision collection, I’d buy one today.

  13. This about standing in line, I agree that the line is sometimes more fun. I waited in line for the Penn State-Ohio State night football game for like 6 hours or something and it was great. It’s nice to be around crazy football fans like that.

  14. This about standing in line, I agree that the line is sometimes more fun. I waited in line for the Penn State-Ohio State night football game for like 6 hours or something and it was great. It’s nice to be around crazy football fans like that.

  15. “Sam, he works for Apple just like I work for Microsoft. I’m not an official spokesperson either. So why are you making my blog into a big deal?”

    This one of the most disingenuous statements you have ever mnade, Robert.

    You often use this blog to drive change at Microsoft by pointing out the company’s mistakes in public (i.e. the gay issue) yet you don’t consider yourself a public representative of Microsoft?

    That’s the problem I’ve always had with your blog. It’s OK for you to be featured (in Businesweek and the general press no less) as someone who builds relationships with users, yet when you act like an ass, “I’m not an official spokesman.”

    There’s no accountability there — and I find it incredibly disingenuous.

  16. “Sam, he works for Apple just like I work for Microsoft. I’m not an official spokesperson either. So why are you making my blog into a big deal?”

    This one of the most disingenuous statements you have ever mnade, Robert.

    You often use this blog to drive change at Microsoft by pointing out the company’s mistakes in public (i.e. the gay issue) yet you don’t consider yourself a public representative of Microsoft?

    That’s the problem I’ve always had with your blog. It’s OK for you to be featured (in Businesweek and the general press no less) as someone who builds relationships with users, yet when you act like an ass, “I’m not an official spokesman.”

    There’s no accountability there — and I find it incredibly disingenuous.

  17. I side with Microsoft on this one. One, selling everything of a product and having high demand is good. Not having enough is bad but normal. Will demand disappear as the Xbox 360 becomes available? I doubt it. No one is mad for not getting a console so much that they won’t get them later on. As for having too many 360′s in Japan where demand is lower… It is a good idea. It’s strategy. You want presence in an important market. The Xbox 360 is a hit and will continue to be a hit. Sure, the competition with the PS3 will be tough, but Microsoft knew that. I think they are doing great.

  18. I side with Microsoft on this one. One, selling everything of a product and having high demand is good. Not having enough is bad but normal. Will demand disappear as the Xbox 360 becomes available? I doubt it. No one is mad for not getting a console so much that they won’t get them later on. As for having too many 360′s in Japan where demand is lower… It is a good idea. It’s strategy. You want presence in an important market. The Xbox 360 is a hit and will continue to be a hit. Sure, the competition with the PS3 will be tough, but Microsoft knew that. I think they are doing great.

  19. I agree that standing in line is strange. I don’t do it.

    Also, commenting on blogs instead of doing something more productive is strange. Once upon a time, even having a blog was strange. Before that, being on the internet when the only content was BBS’s and university resources was strange. Is anybody calling strange bad though? I want strange. “Strange” represents the differences between people and it’s also a matter of perspective.

    But yes, people who stand in line for products they may not even get are strange. I mean really, can you argue that? Can you tell me that’s normal? :P

  20. I agree that standing in line is strange. I don’t do it.

    Also, commenting on blogs instead of doing something more productive is strange. Once upon a time, even having a blog was strange. Before that, being on the internet when the only content was BBS’s and university resources was strange. Is anybody calling strange bad though? I want strange. “Strange” represents the differences between people and it’s also a matter of perspective.

    But yes, people who stand in line for products they may not even get are strange. I mean really, can you argue that? Can you tell me that’s normal? :P

  21. If there is one thing the Xbox is not, is ‘cool’. Last I heard was that the device was damn hot, hot to the point of ‘put it in the fridge when using it’ so it does not crash!!! ;-)

  22. If there is one thing the Xbox is not, is ‘cool’. Last I heard was that the device was damn hot, hot to the point of ‘put it in the fridge when using it’ so it does not crash!!! ;-)

  23. There are a few things about new-age gaming consoles that are driving me nuts.

    1. Jack of All Trades, Master of None: Xbox, PSP, PS3 – all try to be an entertainment hub. And I’ve seen game quality diminish. Think about this: Movies on the PSP are outselling games on the PSP.

    2. Focus on Graphics & Hardware: The Xbox 360 & PSP are hardware beasts but I’ve found one of the most enjoyable games to be Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS.

    3. Lack of Quality Games

    4. Gaming Music: I predict in a few years game music composers will be largely out of employment. I don’t know about you, but when I play video games, the music is part of the experience. It adds so much emotion to the gaming experience. In fact, Chrono Trigger has some of the most well composed music I’ve ever heard. What do we have now? Consoles that let you plug in your mp3 players, which is fine for racing games.

    I’m going to laugh if Apple just takes a detours these gaming consoles and provides a phenomenal living-room box that gets widely adopted. I’ve always been a fan of simple devices that do what they do well – which explains why I’m a fan of iPods and the Nintendo DS.

  24. There are a few things about new-age gaming consoles that are driving me nuts.

    1. Jack of All Trades, Master of None: Xbox, PSP, PS3 – all try to be an entertainment hub. And I’ve seen game quality diminish. Think about this: Movies on the PSP are outselling games on the PSP.

    2. Focus on Graphics & Hardware: The Xbox 360 & PSP are hardware beasts but I’ve found one of the most enjoyable games to be Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS.

    3. Lack of Quality Games

    4. Gaming Music: I predict in a few years game music composers will be largely out of employment. I don’t know about you, but when I play video games, the music is part of the experience. It adds so much emotion to the gaming experience. In fact, Chrono Trigger has some of the most well composed music I’ve ever heard. What do we have now? Consoles that let you plug in your mp3 players, which is fine for racing games.

    I’m going to laugh if Apple just takes a detours these gaming consoles and provides a phenomenal living-room box that gets widely adopted. I’ve always been a fan of simple devices that do what they do well – which explains why I’m a fan of iPods and the Nintendo DS.

  25. Hahahaa. Best Buy, bait and switch? why, never…

    But new Best Buy “shipment” on Dec. 22nd, say my sources, boy did they blow the first hoard, handing out tickets the DAY before, bait and switch everyone else. I got in line only to be told tickets were handed out yesterday, but was told lots of sales on other items. Some stupid laptop something. Whaaa? This whole 360 fiasco painting even Retailers in a bad light.

    Yeah, MFST had to nail this, with the marketing, you’d figured that would have been a given. But it’s already serious game-over time, and they don’t even know it yet. Halo 3 will be a saving grace however, but not enough to run with the tide. Now instead of a fight between Sony and Microsoft, it’s a future fight between Microsoft and Nintendo, for second place.

    Things that will (or might) help MFST: going BluRay (drop the political warfare and just side with the obvious winner, should have stayed neutral). Reduce price on console fairly soon, and knock the game prices down too, Educate casuals that 360 is in fact a NEW VERSION, not as sticky as Xbox 2, Hope the modders mod it (officially that’s evil incarnate, unofficially it will be a really great thing for sales). Do away with two SKUs, already creating tons of trouble.

    Accelerate backwards-compat. upgrades, and stop with the patches that need to be patched themselves. It’s like ‘Patch Tuesday’ for consoles, not a good image for Xbox. And with COD2 save-game glitches and King Kong 360 darkness-glitch, 360 game patches too.

    I hope Sony is learning a thing or two here.

  26. Hahahaa. Best Buy, bait and switch? why, never…

    But new Best Buy “shipment” on Dec. 22nd, say my sources, boy did they blow the first hoard, handing out tickets the DAY before, bait and switch everyone else. I got in line only to be told tickets were handed out yesterday, but was told lots of sales on other items. Some stupid laptop something. Whaaa? This whole 360 fiasco painting even Retailers in a bad light.

    Yeah, MFST had to nail this, with the marketing, you’d figured that would have been a given. But it’s already serious game-over time, and they don’t even know it yet. Halo 3 will be a saving grace however, but not enough to run with the tide. Now instead of a fight between Sony and Microsoft, it’s a future fight between Microsoft and Nintendo, for second place.

    Things that will (or might) help MFST: going BluRay (drop the political warfare and just side with the obvious winner, should have stayed neutral). Reduce price on console fairly soon, and knock the game prices down too, Educate casuals that 360 is in fact a NEW VERSION, not as sticky as Xbox 2, Hope the modders mod it (officially that’s evil incarnate, unofficially it will be a really great thing for sales). Do away with two SKUs, already creating tons of trouble.

    Accelerate backwards-compat. upgrades, and stop with the patches that need to be patched themselves. It’s like ‘Patch Tuesday’ for consoles, not a good image for Xbox. And with COD2 save-game glitches and King Kong 360 darkness-glitch, 360 game patches too.

    I hope Sony is learning a thing or two here.

  27. I have to admit I stood in line opening night with my brother in law at a local Costco. It was cold, and I had to work the next day, but I have been enjoying my 360 ever since.

    Reading the comments in this thread, it is obvious that Scoble does not reach very many hardcore gamers. If you want more comments from people who are GLAD they waited in line (and some that were pissed b/c they froze their tail off) check out xbox-scene.com. I am not trying to promote another site, I am just pointing out the fact that yes, people are willing to wait in line for this thing and yes, it is worth it.

    The 360 does rock, despite the banter from Sony Fanboy’s.

  28. I have to admit I stood in line opening night with my brother in law at a local Costco. It was cold, and I had to work the next day, but I have been enjoying my 360 ever since.

    Reading the comments in this thread, it is obvious that Scoble does not reach very many hardcore gamers. If you want more comments from people who are GLAD they waited in line (and some that were pissed b/c they froze their tail off) check out xbox-scene.com. I am not trying to promote another site, I am just pointing out the fact that yes, people are willing to wait in line for this thing and yes, it is worth it.

    The 360 does rock, despite the banter from Sony Fanboy’s.

  29. Why do people have to divide themselves into “fanboy” crowds? Xbox’ers reduxing Mac vs. Windows Uesnet flamefests of old, in Xbox vs. Sony. True gamers don’t feel that way. I am a gamer, platform agnostic.

    Xbox/Xbox 360 fanboy? Yup. PS2/PS3 fanboy? Yep. PC fanboy? Yep, totally. Gamecube/Revolution? Yep. PSP/DS/Gameboy/PPC? Yes. Retro? Totally. Mix and match, create your own Major Nelson-styled conspiracy theory.

    Only thing ticking me off about the 360, is not the unit itself, or even the games, rather the launch, the handling of it, the various lies told about supply, and the general Retailer ‘bait and switch’ sleaze and corruption; pre-order management seriously fubared.

    If once I get it, and I am experiencing freezes and glitches like 5 of my friends, well then that will be a new wrinkle. But getting my hands on one, is still step one.

  30. Why do people have to divide themselves into “fanboy” crowds? Xbox’ers reduxing Mac vs. Windows Uesnet flamefests of old, in Xbox vs. Sony. True gamers don’t feel that way. I am a gamer, platform agnostic.

    Xbox/Xbox 360 fanboy? Yup. PS2/PS3 fanboy? Yep. PC fanboy? Yep, totally. Gamecube/Revolution? Yep. PSP/DS/Gameboy/PPC? Yes. Retro? Totally. Mix and match, create your own Major Nelson-styled conspiracy theory.

    Only thing ticking me off about the 360, is not the unit itself, or even the games, rather the launch, the handling of it, the various lies told about supply, and the general Retailer ‘bait and switch’ sleaze and corruption; pre-order management seriously fubared.

    If once I get it, and I am experiencing freezes and glitches like 5 of my friends, well then that will be a new wrinkle. But getting my hands on one, is still step one.

  31. Those people ARE strange. Nobody said it wasn’t nice to have them as customers, but they are definitely strange. Also strange is projecting onto a company from the personal blog of one of its employees. I don’t think this Chuq guy ever said his view represent those of Apple.

  32. Those people ARE strange. Nobody said it wasn’t nice to have them as customers, but they are definitely strange. Also strange is projecting onto a company from the personal blog of one of its employees. I don’t think this Chuq guy ever said his view represent those of Apple.

  33. “Why do people have to divide themselves into ‘fanboy’ crowds?” — Christopher, have you ever been passionate (I mean, really passionate) about anything? Oh, I mean other than trolling Scoble’s blog? :-) If the answer is yes, then you should be able to answer your own question. If no, then much like love, no one can truly explain it to you. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.

  34. “Why do people have to divide themselves into ‘fanboy’ crowds?” — Christopher, have you ever been passionate (I mean, really passionate) about anything? Oh, I mean other than trolling Scoble’s blog? :-) If the answer is yes, then you should be able to answer your own question. If no, then much like love, no one can truly explain it to you. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.

  35. Truth bespoke – software companies need to understand how hardware needs to get shipped out. Handling the supply chain lifecycle for hardware is not the same as that for software.

    Microsoft made a cool move by getting Kevin Turner on as COO and he brings tons of Wal-Mart’s SCM expertise along with him – question is, will his expertise reflect on all the groups especially x-box shipments?

  36. You are wasting your time commenting on a web site about how people waste time standing in line? Do you not see these 2 things as one in the same? You write dumb comments. They stand in line….. To each their own.

  37. Truth bespoke – software companies need to understand how hardware needs to get shipped out. Handling the supply chain lifecycle for hardware is not the same as that for software.

    Microsoft made a cool move by getting Kevin Turner on as COO and he brings tons of Wal-Mart’s SCM expertise along with him – question is, will his expertise reflect on all the groups especially x-box shipments?

  38. You are wasting your time commenting on a web site about how people waste time standing in line? Do you not see these 2 things as one in the same? You write dumb comments. They stand in line….. To each their own.

  39. Waiting in line is sooo wrong. It indicates that supply/demand and pricing are out of balance. If the Ipod is constantly sold out, they should raise the price until the production is adequate- unless there are long-term considerations like locking people into a format, or generating hype. Same exact rationale with the X360. As for movie theaters, they could change to ‘Premiere day prices’, but since they’re under capacity anyway, and lines help hype, and tickets are already over-priced…

    ~sigh~ “The line was more fun than the movie!” So true. It’s not just home theaters keeping people home.

  40. Waiting in line is sooo wrong. It indicates that supply/demand and pricing are out of balance. If the Ipod is constantly sold out, they should raise the price until the production is adequate- unless there are long-term considerations like locking people into a format, or generating hype. Same exact rationale with the X360. As for movie theaters, they could change to ‘Premiere day prices’, but since they’re under capacity anyway, and lines help hype, and tickets are already over-priced…

    ~sigh~ “The line was more fun than the movie!” So true. It’s not just home theaters keeping people home.

  41. Scobes, if you wanted to be helpful to your friends, you would have told them to go to Tokyo and pick up an xbox 360 over there.

    They’re gathering dust on shelves in Japan, selling worse than even the first xbox did when it was released.

    I guess that’s to be expected when trying to sell an inferior product without having the ability to push it down customers’ throats, like your employer did with Internet Explorer, Media Player, and Messenger.

  42. Scobes, if you wanted to be helpful to your friends, you would have told them to go to Tokyo and pick up an xbox 360 over there.

    They’re gathering dust on shelves in Japan, selling worse than even the first xbox did when it was released.

    I guess that’s to be expected when trying to sell an inferior product without having the ability to push it down customers’ throats, like your employer did with Internet Explorer, Media Player, and Messenger.

  43. From NY Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/19/technology/19xbox.html?ei=5088&en=db5ca6c2317f508b&ex=1292648400&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1135044676-bEjPPoU0puslkXWh0DSvxw

    Need to Find an Xbox 360? Buy a Ticket to Tokyo
    By MARTIN FACKLER
    TOKYO, Dec. 16 – In the United States, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console has been so popular it is hard to keep on store shelves. But in Tokyo’s neon-drenched Akihabara neighborhood, known as Electronics Town, there are plenty of the sleek white machines to go around, if you can find takers.

    At Yodobashi Camera, an eight-story electronics department store selling everything from hair curlers to home computer servers, a small corner display of Xbox 360′s draws little attention from passing shoppers.

    It is not hard to figure out why. Lined up on a rack near the display are the only nine games sold for Xbox 360. But behind it are some 3,000 games, spread across six store aisles, for Microsoft’s biggest rival here, the Sony PlayStation 2.

    “Xbox doesn’t even have Gran Turismo,” said Shun’ichi Moriizumi, naming a popular auto racing game. One of the few shoppers to stop in front of the Xbox display, Mr. Moriizumi, a 22-year-old university student, said he came to see the Xbox 360, which went on sale here Dec. 10, 18 days after its debut in the United States.

    “I like the graphics,” he said “But I’m not going to buy it, at least not today. I’m waiting until the new PlayStation comes out before deciding which to buy.”

    That appears to be a common sentiment in Japan, the world’s second-largest video game market after the United States.

    The Xbox 360 had a disappointing opening day in Japan. During the first weekend the Xbox 360 was in stores, Microsoft sold 62,135 of about 159,000 machines shipped, or about 39 percent, according to a Japanese market research company, Enterbrain. That pace was even slower than in 2002, when Microsoft introduced its earlier Xbox model in Japan, where it was considered a flop.

    Microsoft was hoping to make a bigger splash this time, not just because of the market’s size here but also because of Japan’s importance as a proving ground for new products. Japan is, after all, home to Microsoft’s two biggest rivals in video games, Sony and Nintendo, and its software companies write many of the games played worldwide, from Super Mario Brothers to Final Fantasy. Winning over Japan’s finicky consumers, who are known to reject games for seemingly minor shortcomings in performance and appearance, represents a coveted seal of approval, analysts say.

    So far, Microsoft has failed the test. As of June, the latest data available, 470,000 Xbox machines over all have been sold in Japan, versus 13 million in the United States, according to the market research site Famitsu.com. That gave Xbox a mere 2 percent slice of the 22 million game machines sold in Japan. By contrast, Xbox had a 25 percent share of the 52 million machines sold in the United States, according to Famitsu.

    Analysts say the biggest hurdle the Xbox 360 faces in Japan is the dominance of Sony and to a lesser extent Nintendo. Sony has 81 percent of the Japanese market; Nintendo has most of the rest, according to Famitsu. Worldwide, PlayStation’s market share is about 68 percent; Xbox is in second place with 17 percent and Nintendo has the rest.

    Microsoft had hoped to steal a march by rolling out its next-generation XBox game machine ahead of its two Japanese rivals. Sony plans to sell its newest game console, PlayStation 3, in the spring, though the company will not say exactly when. Nintendo says it will release its new console, Revolution, in 2006.

    But Microsoft’s strategy does not seem to be working, analysts say. One problem they note is that Microsoft introduced Xbox 360 before there was much game software to play on it. That makes the Xbox 360 less attractive next to the vastly larger number of games available for PlayStation. Microsoft says more games are in the pipeline, including the latest version of the popular Dead or Alive, which is supposed to go on sale here later this month. “We didn’t have a rocket start,” said Asako Miyata, a spokeswoman in Japan for Microsoft. “But we see sales steadily picking up as more games become available.”

    Analysts say, however, that even when more games appear, Microsoft may have trouble luring first-time buyers because of the need to replace their game software libraries. Because so many consumers now own PlayStation 2, it would be easier for them to wait for the arrival of PlayStation 3, which would be able to play all their current games, .

    “Sony has such a high penetration rate,” said John Yang, an electronics analyst in Tokyo for Standard & Poor’s rating agency. “It is not uncommon for households here to have two or even three PS2′s,” he said, referring to the current PlayStation model. “Why would an entire household want to switch to Xbox?”

    Takashi Sudo, a manager for the video game department at the Yodobashi Camera store, said several hundred people showed up for the opening day of Xbox 360 at his store. But he said he expected a crowd at least five times as large for the PlayStation 3 debut in the spring. For that, he says, he will need to set up a line of special booths to handle the crunch.

    “This is Sony’s country,” Mr. Sudo said. “Xbox has to break into a market that Sony built.”

  44. From NY Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/19/technology/19xbox.html?ei=5088&en=db5ca6c2317f508b&ex=1292648400&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1135044676-bEjPPoU0puslkXWh0DSvxw

    Need to Find an Xbox 360? Buy a Ticket to Tokyo
    By MARTIN FACKLER
    TOKYO, Dec. 16 – In the United States, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console has been so popular it is hard to keep on store shelves. But in Tokyo’s neon-drenched Akihabara neighborhood, known as Electronics Town, there are plenty of the sleek white machines to go around, if you can find takers.

    At Yodobashi Camera, an eight-story electronics department store selling everything from hair curlers to home computer servers, a small corner display of Xbox 360′s draws little attention from passing shoppers.

    It is not hard to figure out why. Lined up on a rack near the display are the only nine games sold for Xbox 360. But behind it are some 3,000 games, spread across six store aisles, for Microsoft’s biggest rival here, the Sony PlayStation 2.

    “Xbox doesn’t even have Gran Turismo,” said Shun’ichi Moriizumi, naming a popular auto racing game. One of the few shoppers to stop in front of the Xbox display, Mr. Moriizumi, a 22-year-old university student, said he came to see the Xbox 360, which went on sale here Dec. 10, 18 days after its debut in the United States.

    “I like the graphics,” he said “But I’m not going to buy it, at least not today. I’m waiting until the new PlayStation comes out before deciding which to buy.”

    That appears to be a common sentiment in Japan, the world’s second-largest video game market after the United States.

    The Xbox 360 had a disappointing opening day in Japan. During the first weekend the Xbox 360 was in stores, Microsoft sold 62,135 of about 159,000 machines shipped, or about 39 percent, according to a Japanese market research company, Enterbrain. That pace was even slower than in 2002, when Microsoft introduced its earlier Xbox model in Japan, where it was considered a flop.

    Microsoft was hoping to make a bigger splash this time, not just because of the market’s size here but also because of Japan’s importance as a proving ground for new products. Japan is, after all, home to Microsoft’s two biggest rivals in video games, Sony and Nintendo, and its software companies write many of the games played worldwide, from Super Mario Brothers to Final Fantasy. Winning over Japan’s finicky consumers, who are known to reject games for seemingly minor shortcomings in performance and appearance, represents a coveted seal of approval, analysts say.

    So far, Microsoft has failed the test. As of June, the latest data available, 470,000 Xbox machines over all have been sold in Japan, versus 13 million in the United States, according to the market research site Famitsu.com. That gave Xbox a mere 2 percent slice of the 22 million game machines sold in Japan. By contrast, Xbox had a 25 percent share of the 52 million machines sold in the United States, according to Famitsu.

    Analysts say the biggest hurdle the Xbox 360 faces in Japan is the dominance of Sony and to a lesser extent Nintendo. Sony has 81 percent of the Japanese market; Nintendo has most of the rest, according to Famitsu. Worldwide, PlayStation’s market share is about 68 percent; Xbox is in second place with 17 percent and Nintendo has the rest.

    Microsoft had hoped to steal a march by rolling out its next-generation XBox game machine ahead of its two Japanese rivals. Sony plans to sell its newest game console, PlayStation 3, in the spring, though the company will not say exactly when. Nintendo says it will release its new console, Revolution, in 2006.

    But Microsoft’s strategy does not seem to be working, analysts say. One problem they note is that Microsoft introduced Xbox 360 before there was much game software to play on it. That makes the Xbox 360 less attractive next to the vastly larger number of games available for PlayStation. Microsoft says more games are in the pipeline, including the latest version of the popular Dead or Alive, which is supposed to go on sale here later this month. “We didn’t have a rocket start,” said Asako Miyata, a spokeswoman in Japan for Microsoft. “But we see sales steadily picking up as more games become available.”

    Analysts say, however, that even when more games appear, Microsoft may have trouble luring first-time buyers because of the need to replace their game software libraries. Because so many consumers now own PlayStation 2, it would be easier for them to wait for the arrival of PlayStation 3, which would be able to play all their current games, .

    “Sony has such a high penetration rate,” said John Yang, an electronics analyst in Tokyo for Standard & Poor’s rating agency. “It is not uncommon for households here to have two or even three PS2′s,” he said, referring to the current PlayStation model. “Why would an entire household want to switch to Xbox?”

    Takashi Sudo, a manager for the video game department at the Yodobashi Camera store, said several hundred people showed up for the opening day of Xbox 360 at his store. But he said he expected a crowd at least five times as large for the PlayStation 3 debut in the spring. For that, he says, he will need to set up a line of special booths to handle the crunch.

    “This is Sony’s country,” Mr. Sudo said. “Xbox has to break into a market that Sony built.”