Achievements are how Microsoft is gonna edge in on Google

Mark my words, the popularity of Microsoft’s “points” system (aka “Xbox 360 achievements”) is going to be how Microsoft comes back against Google and Yahoo. Those Xbox wackos (I’m one) will look to get a leg up on their friends by using other Microsoft services.

Imagine if you earn an achievement for doing 100 Windows Live searches, or doing a search that has no results for it, or doing a search that’ll return a Microsoft.com page in the #1 spot.

Don’t think this matters? Every Xbox’er I know keeps track of how many achievements they’ve gotten. I still remember how Chris Pirillo got excited when I was over his house and he earned an achievement.

They are addictive. Watch for Microsoft to expand the points system.

Comments

  1. Maybe the points system will be “expanded” and tageted to techie.
    Well…I’ll surely instruct my SPAM filter to not mark any message offeing bucks if “I use the beta version o the next email client” Microsoft releases! ;-)

  2. Maybe the points system will be “expanded” and tageted to techie.
    Well…I’ll surely instruct my SPAM filter to not mark any message offeing bucks if “I use the beta version o the next email client” Microsoft releases! ;-)

  3. Good spot Robert! It works perfectly as a microconcept to get gamers to proceed all the way through a game (Burnout and Gran Turismo spring to mind) but surely the end goal has got to be enough of an incentive for them to continue the points scoring?

    Beating your friends is one thing, but for the whole thing to have a pinnacle is for me, critical.

    I remember when the ngage came out, one major appeal was the intenrational league of points (for a game), but after a while the appeal soon wore off.

    That said, achievable, tangible benefits appropriate to each MS product being used is a great idea!

  4. Good spot Robert! It works perfectly as a microconcept to get gamers to proceed all the way through a game (Burnout and Gran Turismo spring to mind) but surely the end goal has got to be enough of an incentive for them to continue the points scoring?

    Beating your friends is one thing, but for the whole thing to have a pinnacle is for me, critical.

    I remember when the ngage came out, one major appeal was the intenrational league of points (for a game), but after a while the appeal soon wore off.

    That said, achievable, tangible benefits appropriate to each MS product being used is a great idea!

  5. Yes, indeedy! And this is in-line with a Gates comment earlier in the year about potentially ‘paying’ people to use Windows Live search; pay them via points which can be redeemed for goodies. My only concern is that Google can set up a similar points system themselves by partnering with Apple. With everybody using a points system, it no longer remains a differentiator. Wouldn’t you rather use Google and earn points than Yahoo and earn points if the value of these points are the same because Google search quality is better?

    Having said that, you can see how this could become an ever-escalating ‘arms war’ where the value of points keep going up and up to lure users; the value only being limited by the ROI of converting a user.

  6. Yes, indeedy! And this is in-line with a Gates comment earlier in the year about potentially ‘paying’ people to use Windows Live search; pay them via points which can be redeemed for goodies. My only concern is that Google can set up a similar points system themselves by partnering with Apple. With everybody using a points system, it no longer remains a differentiator. Wouldn’t you rather use Google and earn points than Yahoo and earn points if the value of these points are the same because Google search quality is better?

    Having said that, you can see how this could become an ever-escalating ‘arms war’ where the value of points keep going up and up to lure users; the value only being limited by the ROI of converting a user.

  7. I think you have to be consistent in the article with the terminology. Their are Achievements, which is what you are talking about, and their is the terrible sudo currency, MS Points, that is also embedded in the whole Xbox Live and Zune experience. MS Points are insidious, something only an accountant could love, but Achievements are addictive. MS could make Achievements even more addictive if you got free stuff on Xbox Live for get a certain number of Achievements.

  8. I think you have to be consistent in the article with the terminology. Their are Achievements, which is what you are talking about, and their is the terrible sudo currency, MS Points, that is also embedded in the whole Xbox Live and Zune experience. MS Points are insidious, something only an accountant could love, but Achievements are addictive. MS could make Achievements even more addictive if you got free stuff on Xbox Live for get a certain number of Achievements.

  9. I came here to post the same thing Dave did. You can’t call Achievements ‘points’ because ‘points’ are xbox currency. I still don’t understand why they use the confusing points. They should make it one to one to dollars, then they could call them Xbucks. I have 20 xbucks on my xbox. I like the sound of it.

  10. I came here to post the same thing Dave did. You can’t call Achievements ‘points’ because ‘points’ are xbox currency. I still don’t understand why they use the confusing points. They should make it one to one to dollars, then they could call them Xbucks. I have 20 xbucks on my xbox. I like the sound of it.

  11. I don’t have an XBox 360 (yet, that purchase is being planned), but can you give points or achievements person to person? Imagine if you could give points (maybe from a pool you’ve earned or bought) for people to subscribe to your RSS feed or to register for your site?

  12. I don’t have an XBox 360 (yet, that purchase is being planned), but can you give points or achievements person to person? Imagine if you could give points (maybe from a pool you’ve earned or bought) for people to subscribe to your RSS feed or to register for your site?

  13. Scoble:

    I usually think you have a lot of insight, but I have to disagree on this one.

    I bought a 360 in December 2005 (paid extra to get it) and think it is an awesome system. I vaguely pay attention to my achievements score – mostly relative to other people in my friends list and especially people I actually really know outside of gaming.

    But there is absolutely no way I would use Windows Live over Google, etc., to boost that score. I just don’t care that much about it.

    Maybe there are some gamers out there who do, but with a total of roughly 10MM 360s sold, that subset of 360 owners is in no way big enough to give MSFT an “edge on Google.”

    To me, the cool thing about earning an achievement is when you do it by doing something in a game – e.g. getting a certain number of kills in a multiplayer round, making it through a round without sustaining any damage, etc. I can’t imagine many people getting excited by earning achievements by sending Hotmail – I mean Windows Live Mail or whatever they’re calling it these days, etc.

    There are a lot of great things about the 360 ecosystem, and I am sure many more to come, but I just don’t see this as being realistic.

    Thanks for all of the great work you do. I enjoy your blog a ton.

    H.

  14. Scoble:

    I usually think you have a lot of insight, but I have to disagree on this one.

    I bought a 360 in December 2005 (paid extra to get it) and think it is an awesome system. I vaguely pay attention to my achievements score – mostly relative to other people in my friends list and especially people I actually really know outside of gaming.

    But there is absolutely no way I would use Windows Live over Google, etc., to boost that score. I just don’t care that much about it.

    Maybe there are some gamers out there who do, but with a total of roughly 10MM 360s sold, that subset of 360 owners is in no way big enough to give MSFT an “edge on Google.”

    To me, the cool thing about earning an achievement is when you do it by doing something in a game – e.g. getting a certain number of kills in a multiplayer round, making it through a round without sustaining any damage, etc. I can’t imagine many people getting excited by earning achievements by sending Hotmail – I mean Windows Live Mail or whatever they’re calling it these days, etc.

    There are a lot of great things about the 360 ecosystem, and I am sure many more to come, but I just don’t see this as being realistic.

    Thanks for all of the great work you do. I enjoy your blog a ton.

    H.

  15. This would be a great move on Microsoft’s part. The would be able to use the momentum of one business area (the XBox, which is by no means a monopoly) to facilitate the usage of other areas of their business (windows Live).

    Token Economies are great with Children. They’re used a lot in classrooms. I always thought playing video games was child-like (I am a huge gamer – BTW), and the use of points in the XBox 360 proves it.. :)

  16. This would be a great move on Microsoft’s part. The would be able to use the momentum of one business area (the XBox, which is by no means a monopoly) to facilitate the usage of other areas of their business (windows Live).

    Token Economies are great with Children. They’re used a lot in classrooms. I always thought playing video games was child-like (I am a huge gamer – BTW), and the use of points in the XBox 360 proves it.. :)

  17. Points or recognition based systems have been a popular way of getting people to share information or get involved in activities for a good while. Forums on the Web have used points and rankings for postings for a long time. Some people achieve a new title because of the number of posts submitted. TechRepublic used a points based system in its Q&A approach. All of this gives them a status and recognition in the community which is what Xbox Live points are all about.

    Achievements are cool, especially with gamers as as they confirm or deny l33t status, just as having the best items and level in WoW shows how good you are (apart from those people that buy them).

    What I wonder about is whether the achievements and points will be only a symbol of recognition or whether I will be able to use them for something like getting earlier access to Betas or other goodies.

  18. MK: Achievements earn you GamerScore, not points. Microsoft has gone on record saying GamerScore will never buy you anything. They could go back on that, but it’s unlikely. There are already companies you can pay to earn you achievements and build your GamerScore, so this the system has already been gamed too much to put any sort of monetary value. As Robert said, it’s an addicting way of getting people to put an extra effort in.

    However, Robert, I hope Microsoft never pushes achievements beyond games. That would completely invalidate the system and ruin it permanently. The achievements are a sign that you achieved something in a game. Given, most games have a few easy achievements. But they all have harder ones that require you to actually be good at the game. There’s no way to be “good” at using Microsoft products. When I see somebody who has 10,000+ GamerScore, I know that person is a mad man. If in the future, seeing 10,000+ means I found somebody who loaded up Microsoft Office 100 times or performed a bunch of searches online, the game’s over and Microsoft loses one of the things that made their console better than the competition.

  19. MK: Achievements earn you GamerScore, not points. Microsoft has gone on record saying GamerScore will never buy you anything. They could go back on that, but it’s unlikely. There are already companies you can pay to earn you achievements and build your GamerScore, so this the system has already been gamed too much to put any sort of monetary value. As Robert said, it’s an addicting way of getting people to put an extra effort in.

    However, Robert, I hope Microsoft never pushes achievements beyond games. That would completely invalidate the system and ruin it permanently. The achievements are a sign that you achieved something in a game. Given, most games have a few easy achievements. But they all have harder ones that require you to actually be good at the game. There’s no way to be “good” at using Microsoft products. When I see somebody who has 10,000+ GamerScore, I know that person is a mad man. If in the future, seeing 10,000+ means I found somebody who loaded up Microsoft Office 100 times or performed a bunch of searches online, the game’s over and Microsoft loses one of the things that made their console better than the competition.

  20. Points or recognition based systems have been a popular way of getting people to share information or get involved in activities for a good while. Forums on the Web have used points and rankings for postings for a long time. Some people achieve a new title because of the number of posts submitted. TechRepublic used a points based system in its Q&A approach. All of this gives them a status and recognition in the community which is what Xbox Live points are all about.

    Achievements are cool, especially with gamers as as they confirm or deny l33t status, just as having the best items and level in WoW shows how good you are (apart from those people that buy them).

    What I wonder about is whether the achievements and points will be only a symbol of recognition or whether I will be able to use them for something like getting earlier access to Betas or other goodies.

  21. The xbox is what made me a fan of Microsoft again. As someone who has used the 360 point system, I don’t think it’s really a significant draw. The points are the 21st century equivalent of those tickets that you used to get at arcades for playing speedball and the like. The virtual display case is lined with prizes for high achievers. But, as in the past, the prizes are just marketing gimmicks. For people that work for a living and don’t have time to spend their whole day racking up points, the only way to attain the prizes is to open up your wallet and buy them. The points only serve to entice.

    When Xbox live launched in 2002, one of the first games available was Ghost Recon, a port of the original PC game. That game had a dossier system with 50 objectives that could be achieved in the single-player modes. Each objective unlocked an aspect of the multiplayer game (character, map, game type, or weapon) that made the experience more fun for the player and encouraged his team mates and adversaries to share the single player experience more vividly.

    To date, none of the next generation games have utilized the point system in this manner. The application transfers to the non-game world, as you pointed out, but I don’t think that Microsoft really gets it.

  22. The xbox is what made me a fan of Microsoft again. As someone who has used the 360 point system, I don’t think it’s really a significant draw. The points are the 21st century equivalent of those tickets that you used to get at arcades for playing speedball and the like. The virtual display case is lined with prizes for high achievers. But, as in the past, the prizes are just marketing gimmicks. For people that work for a living and don’t have time to spend their whole day racking up points, the only way to attain the prizes is to open up your wallet and buy them. The points only serve to entice.

    When Xbox live launched in 2002, one of the first games available was Ghost Recon, a port of the original PC game. That game had a dossier system with 50 objectives that could be achieved in the single-player modes. Each objective unlocked an aspect of the multiplayer game (character, map, game type, or weapon) that made the experience more fun for the player and encouraged his team mates and adversaries to share the single player experience more vividly.

    To date, none of the next generation games have utilized the point system in this manner. The application transfers to the non-game world, as you pointed out, but I don’t think that Microsoft really gets it.

  23. Robert, I don’t feel that the points system will be expanded outside of the Xbox Live system. The xbox team, I feel, likes to work in that closed environment.

    I do agree that they are addictive, and actually makes me want to play older games to unlock them.

  24. Robert, I don’t feel that the points system will be expanded outside of the Xbox Live system. The xbox team, I feel, likes to work in that closed environment.

    I do agree that they are addictive, and actually makes me want to play older games to unlock them.

  25. Wow that seems to be a very good idea. The more the competition increases between the search engines the better would be for the users.
    It is always good to see that The Major competitors introduce creative ideas to increase their popularity instead of just getting involved in negative add campaigns.

  26. Wow that seems to be a very good idea. The more the competition increases between the search engines the better would be for the users.
    It is always good to see that The Major competitors introduce creative ideas to increase their popularity instead of just getting involved in negative add campaigns.

  27. Robert,
    I do not have an Xbox, however, I have to disagree with you on this. Using a games points system to increase traffic to a site or use services will only work with the gamers and only when they are playing the games. This may increase Microsoft’s exposure but only for a short period.
    The business world is what is going make or break to big software companies, if you can get a company a more secure, faster, cheaper way to run it’s business and manipulate business intellegence, then you are going to win.
    This idea for gam points is great idea, but only for gamers.

    Guy

  28. Robert,
    I do not have an Xbox, however, I have to disagree with you on this. Using a games points system to increase traffic to a site or use services will only work with the gamers and only when they are playing the games. This may increase Microsoft’s exposure but only for a short period.
    The business world is what is going make or break to big software companies, if you can get a company a more secure, faster, cheaper way to run it’s business and manipulate business intellegence, then you are going to win.
    This idea for gam points is great idea, but only for gamers.

    Guy

  29. what about the economics of ‘points supply’?
    isn’t this just going to lead to hyper inflation of ms points?
    won’t they ultimately lose value?

  30. what about the economics of ‘points supply’?
    isn’t this just going to lead to hyper inflation of ms points?
    won’t they ultimately lose value?

  31. You’re kidding yourself. Achievements are not going to be enough of a draw to dent Google at all.

    There are 10 million Xbox 360 users out there and giving the 360′s growth curve (which has actually been disappointing given it’s head start), it’s unlikely Achievements would make much of a dent at all.

    Although I do have to say, I think Xbox Live is the single best platform Microsoft has ever put together. It certainly far surpasses Windows.

  32. You’re kidding yourself. Achievements are not going to be enough of a draw to dent Google at all.

    There are 10 million Xbox 360 users out there and giving the 360′s growth curve (which has actually been disappointing given it’s head start), it’s unlikely Achievements would make much of a dent at all.

    Although I do have to say, I think Xbox Live is the single best platform Microsoft has ever put together. It certainly far surpasses Windows.

  33. I don’t think many Internet users would be interested in a Microsoft points system. I can see how such a system would get *some* attention, but most people really wouldn’t care much; and hardly anyone would care enough to change their behaviour i.e. stop using Google.

    If Microsoft wants people to stop using Google, and start using Live, then MS needs to make their search systems find stuff significant better than Google does. There’s loads of ways they could do this – but they just seem to completely lack the ability to deliver anything but mostly inferior copies of what Google is delivering.

    I’m actually quite surprised at how badly MS is doing. Google has left quite a lot of low-hanging fruit on the search tree – in text search, and image search (and video search). Low-hanging fruit that really could make people think about switching.

    This stuff really shouldn’t be that hard for a company in Microsoft’s position. That real barrier to entry in this stuff is computer hardware and bandwidth, so most start-ups can’t compete because of cash constraints. That’s not an issue for Microsoft.

    Actually, I’m more than surprised at MS. I’m embarrassed for them. I mean – not only is there low-hanging fruit in the search space itself, but MS owns the most popular damn browser on the planet. And if you own the browser, then there’s some truly *amazing* things you could do with search. By amazing – I mean things that could totally blow Google away.

    Ho hum… never mind. Not my problem… as they say!

  34. I don’t think many Internet users would be interested in a Microsoft points system. I can see how such a system would get *some* attention, but most people really wouldn’t care much; and hardly anyone would care enough to change their behaviour i.e. stop using Google.

    If Microsoft wants people to stop using Google, and start using Live, then MS needs to make their search systems find stuff significant better than Google does. There’s loads of ways they could do this – but they just seem to completely lack the ability to deliver anything but mostly inferior copies of what Google is delivering.

    I’m actually quite surprised at how badly MS is doing. Google has left quite a lot of low-hanging fruit on the search tree – in text search, and image search (and video search). Low-hanging fruit that really could make people think about switching.

    This stuff really shouldn’t be that hard for a company in Microsoft’s position. That real barrier to entry in this stuff is computer hardware and bandwidth, so most start-ups can’t compete because of cash constraints. That’s not an issue for Microsoft.

    Actually, I’m more than surprised at MS. I’m embarrassed for them. I mean – not only is there low-hanging fruit in the search space itself, but MS owns the most popular damn browser on the planet. And if you own the browser, then there’s some truly *amazing* things you could do with search. By amazing – I mean things that could totally blow Google away.

    Ho hum… never mind. Not my problem… as they say!

  35. Microsoft should keep the achievements tied to revenue, Robert, otherwise it diminshes their value. Right now you can’t earn achievments without a friend bringing the game over, buying or renting the games.

    The bigger story and threat to eBay (PayPal) and Google (Checkout and Adsense) here is using Microsoft Points ($$) as a micropayment system outside the Live Marketplace, interfacing with Adcenter, and letting affiliates shave pennies promoting content in the Live Marketplace.

    Imagine bloggers being able to run contextual AdCenter ads for Live content and make part of the sale from referred sales?

    This is what Google needs to be most concerned about and I think that will happen someday. The achievement score thing is a nice sideshow attraction, but it’s not a direct revenue producer if anybody can earn them by doing stuff on the web for free (like searches).

    Seems better to have them be tied to buying a product or service, like they are now.

    To avoid getting too lengthy here, I’ll continue these thoughts in a post and link back in.

  36. Microsoft should keep the achievements tied to revenue, Robert, otherwise it diminshes their value. Right now you can’t earn achievments without a friend bringing the game over, buying or renting the games.

    The bigger story and threat to eBay (PayPal) and Google (Checkout and Adsense) here is using Microsoft Points ($$) as a micropayment system outside the Live Marketplace, interfacing with Adcenter, and letting affiliates shave pennies promoting content in the Live Marketplace.

    Imagine bloggers being able to run contextual AdCenter ads for Live content and make part of the sale from referred sales?

    This is what Google needs to be most concerned about and I think that will happen someday. The achievement score thing is a nice sideshow attraction, but it’s not a direct revenue producer if anybody can earn them by doing stuff on the web for free (like searches).

    Seems better to have them be tied to buying a product or service, like they are now.

    To avoid getting too lengthy here, I’ll continue these thoughts in a post and link back in.

  37. If points can be ‘achieved’ by something trivial as 10 searches on Live which any dufus could do. Then it wouldn’t be an achievement anymore, would it?

    Competitions are only fun when you win sometimes (or atleast you have a hope to win). With something like points. Only the top few would be can be kept interested.

    And hey what happens to the baby who gets born on 2020? Would he have to compete with someone born 40 years before him?

  38. If points can be ‘achieved’ by something trivial as 10 searches on Live which any dufus could do. Then it wouldn’t be an achievement anymore, would it?

    Competitions are only fun when you win sometimes (or atleast you have a hope to win). With something like points. Only the top few would be can be kept interested.

    And hey what happens to the baby who gets born on 2020? Would he have to compete with someone born 40 years before him?

  39. Simon:

    I think Microsoft struggles to do this because of its perception in the market – and the fact that people have to pay for their main suite of products. (Ironically, there isn’t much you can do with writely though that you can’t do with pre-loaded MS Works!). Google is fantastic at using its name to push (often entirely search un-related) products but if they weren’t so good people just wouldn’t use them.

    I agree with you though in the opportunities that the browser hold for MS. In the same way that Google search by its very dominance and name, bred related (and unrelated) Google products, so should MS browser attempt to do the same.

    Integration of basic word, excel, powerpoint etc. into the browser are easy to achieve…but then again what would the competition commissions have to say about integration of such tools into their browser?

    Maybe the fact that they would be online resources (accessed via the browser) would ensure they escape the bundling problems the media player encountered.

    The unrelated browser-product field is a different kettle of fish. As Firefox 2.0 shows, the browser as we know it has come as far as it can go. Even Flock isn’t massively radical. I think that if MS are to use the browser to launch un-related browser products, they need to re-evaluate how the browser is used.

  40. Simon:

    I think Microsoft struggles to do this because of its perception in the market – and the fact that people have to pay for their main suite of products. (Ironically, there isn’t much you can do with writely though that you can’t do with pre-loaded MS Works!). Google is fantastic at using its name to push (often entirely search un-related) products but if they weren’t so good people just wouldn’t use them.

    I agree with you though in the opportunities that the browser hold for MS. In the same way that Google search by its very dominance and name, bred related (and unrelated) Google products, so should MS browser attempt to do the same.

    Integration of basic word, excel, powerpoint etc. into the browser are easy to achieve…but then again what would the competition commissions have to say about integration of such tools into their browser?

    Maybe the fact that they would be online resources (accessed via the browser) would ensure they escape the bundling problems the media player encountered.

    The unrelated browser-product field is a different kettle of fish. As Firefox 2.0 shows, the browser as we know it has come as far as it can go. Even Flock isn’t massively radical. I think that if MS are to use the browser to launch un-related browser products, they need to re-evaluate how the browser is used.

  41. You “earned an achievement?” Do you know how unbelievably asinine that sounds?

    I love geek gadgets far more than most, but please, can we have grown men act like it. My kids earn neopoints on neopets.com, and they’re really happy that they’ve got 90+ thousand of them. I never would have thought that adults would get sucked into the same marketing/ego/nonsense vortex.

    I hate this “adultescent” stuff.

  42. You “earned an achievement?” Do you know how unbelievably asinine that sounds?

    I love geek gadgets far more than most, but please, can we have grown men act like it. My kids earn neopoints on neopets.com, and they’re really happy that they’ve got 90+ thousand of them. I never would have thought that adults would get sucked into the same marketing/ego/nonsense vortex.

    I hate this “adultescent” stuff.

  43. Veronica: my gamertag is “Scobleizer.”

    John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.

  44. Veronica: my gamertag is “Scobleizer.”

    John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.

  45. “Microsoft is gonna edge ?”

    Are you talking about that company that has to buy their way through techmeme sponsorship just to “be part of the conversation”?

    Take a look at MSDN blogs : so many blogs, and yet virtually no comment anywhere.

    Give me a break, Scoble.

    I understand you are willing to save an endangered specy though.

  46. “Microsoft is gonna edge ?”

    Are you talking about that company that has to buy their way through techmeme sponsorship just to “be part of the conversation”?

    Take a look at MSDN blogs : so many blogs, and yet virtually no comment anywhere.

    Give me a break, Scoble.

    I understand you are willing to save an endangered specy though.

  47. As someone who actually does care about his gamerscore somewhat, I can tell you that doing this would absolutely destroy the credibility of the system. It would become, erm, pointless.

    And as to what ‘caring’ about my gamerscore means, basically, it tends to make me play 360 games instead of the games I have on other systems.

  48. As someone who actually does care about his gamerscore somewhat, I can tell you that doing this would absolutely destroy the credibility of the system. It would become, erm, pointless.

    And as to what ‘caring’ about my gamerscore means, basically, it tends to make me play 360 games instead of the games I have on other systems.

  49. Hmmm. A search with NO results? Try:

    “Reality is rarely relevant” (Google = 0, Live = 0)

    Which makes sense, since “It is perceptions that count…”

    bob wyman

  50. Hmmm. A search with NO results? Try:

    “Reality is rarely relevant” (Google = 0, Live = 0)

    Which makes sense, since “It is perceptions that count…”

    bob wyman

  51. @33 Actually, as the majority of your commenters have pointed out: No, it’s not. Unlike frequent flyer miles, Xbox achievments have no currency value.

  52. @33 Actually, as the majority of your commenters have pointed out: No, it’s not. Unlike frequent flyer miles, Xbox achievments have no currency value.

  53. @29. Paul – I was actually meaning *only* search-engine (and context-depend ad) innovation in my comment (#24).

    I wasn’t talking about the other stuff like on-line office applications etc. The main opposition to MS Office – Google office apps, and OpenOffice – hasn’t united to create a single offering. *Big* mistake. Both of those are pretty shoddy offerings, in comparison to Office 2007. MS will continue to whip their asses in the office app game.

    No, if you want to stop people going to Google, a points system is going to be in the noise. What you need to do is make your search engine significantly better than Google’s. Remember AltaVista? Everyone used to use that. They thought it was an amazing search engine. What could be better than that? Then Google came along. It was a step change. And everybody switched.

  54. @29. Paul – I was actually meaning *only* search-engine (and context-depend ad) innovation in my comment (#24).

    I wasn’t talking about the other stuff like on-line office applications etc. The main opposition to MS Office – Google office apps, and OpenOffice – hasn’t united to create a single offering. *Big* mistake. Both of those are pretty shoddy offerings, in comparison to Office 2007. MS will continue to whip their asses in the office app game.

    No, if you want to stop people going to Google, a points system is going to be in the noise. What you need to do is make your search engine significantly better than Google’s. Remember AltaVista? Everyone used to use that. They thought it was an amazing search engine. What could be better than that? Then Google came along. It was a step change. And everybody switched.

  55. [...] Scoble is thinking aloud that Microsoft could have something useful in the fight against Google with ‘Microsoft “points”‘ but some of his commenters seem confused. Those who own and use Xbox Live know what Scoble meant, but I can see others — especially non-gamers — being confused. There aren’t achievement points, only achievements and gamerscore, see the official Xbox site. [...]

  56. John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.

    And those are probably even less useful unless you’re a serious flyer. I fly 2-3 times a year, the frequent flyer miles expire before I can ever use them.

    If you’re a fan, they’re great, but if you aren’t deeply in the XBox/Zune world, they’re rather useless. Acquiring points you can’t use makes them have no value. Of course, considering how Microsoft obfuscates the point-money relationship in the Zune store, that’s probably what they’re gambling on.

  57. John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.

    And those are probably even less useful unless you’re a serious flyer. I fly 2-3 times a year, the frequent flyer miles expire before I can ever use them.

    If you’re a fan, they’re great, but if you aren’t deeply in the XBox/Zune world, they’re rather useless. Acquiring points you can’t use makes them have no value. Of course, considering how Microsoft obfuscates the point-money relationship in the Zune store, that’s probably what they’re gambling on.

  58. Microsoft’s Mandated Achievements

    A GameDaily feature on Microsoft’s “Achievement Points” program for gamers has gotten a lot of bloggers’ attention. Robert Scoble, for example, believes Microsoft will eventually extend beyond games and use as a secret weapon against the likes…

  59. [...] Robert Scoble thinks the same system will be used to make people switch from Google to Live Search. I think he’s both right and wrong. He’s wrong because there’s a difference between games and web search. The most obvious is that people who play games like to spend time doing it. For most people, search is the thing you get by as fast as possible to find the thing you really want to spend time on. But there’s another difference as well: most young people think games are cool. Only nerds like us think search is cool. Therefore the bragging rights of being a “top searcher” is not as great as being a “top gamer”. [...]

  60. @41 – edge culture and self promotion at its best. Just because you think something, doesn’t mean your idea is statistically or practically representative. I know Scoble reckons you are a cool guy but that doesn’t equate to meaning your opinions are of any interest outside of your buddy circle. e.g. you fly twice a year, so that makes you authoritative on the relevance of air miles?

    @ original post – Pirillo needs to get a life. seriously. he has a wife to take care of, surely…

  61. @41 – edge culture and self promotion at its best. Just because you think something, doesn’t mean your idea is statistically or practically representative. I know Scoble reckons you are a cool guy but that doesn’t equate to meaning your opinions are of any interest outside of your buddy circle. e.g. you fly twice a year, so that makes you authoritative on the relevance of air miles?

    @ original post – Pirillo needs to get a life. seriously. he has a wife to take care of, surely…

  62. As far as I can tell, these achievements have no real value. While most gamers like to see where they are in relation to other gamers, how does that translate to doing something as mundane as search? Like many of your posts, I just don’t seem to understand what you are driving at. Do you think gamers are going to respect people for searching the internet?

    The only way that points would matter is if they had real value. The problem then is that it is trivial to “game” the system. I could easily write a plug-in for Firefox that takes any Google search and duplicates it for MS search in a separate tab that I don’t actually look at.

  63. As far as I can tell, these achievements have no real value. While most gamers like to see where they are in relation to other gamers, how does that translate to doing something as mundane as search? Like many of your posts, I just don’t seem to understand what you are driving at. Do you think gamers are going to respect people for searching the internet?

    The only way that points would matter is if they had real value. The problem then is that it is trivial to “game” the system. I could easily write a plug-in for Firefox that takes any Google search and duplicates it for MS search in a separate tab that I don’t actually look at.

  64. Yawn… Robert, I hope Google does get usurped in the next couple of years, but this article is somewhat reaching… Poster #45 hit the nail on the head, IMO.

    For some reason, all this reminds me of Blade Runner. Robert, I still think we’ll all see you blogging for the Tyrell Corporation while all while, all this personal information will allow the government to blog us. There goes any hope of privacy and what little anonymity we currently enjoy.

    I don’t care what Scott McNealy (former Sun CEO) said about “get over your privacy — you don’t have any…” I so disagree with that.

  65. Yawn… Robert, I hope Google does get usurped in the next couple of years, but this article is somewhat reaching… Poster #45 hit the nail on the head, IMO.

    For some reason, all this reminds me of Blade Runner. Robert, I still think we’ll all see you blogging for the Tyrell Corporation while all while, all this personal information will allow the government to blog us. There goes any hope of privacy and what little anonymity we currently enjoy.

    I don’t care what Scott McNealy (former Sun CEO) said about “get over your privacy — you don’t have any…” I so disagree with that.

  66. Robert, I think you are absolutely right. But the winner won’t be Microsoft alone, it will also be the public — the search users! (Assuming Microsoft or Yahoo plan to give substantial portion back)

    I thin you love your 60inch Sony HD TV. How much did you pay for it? How much would you pay for it today? I am sure much less. Why? Because the companies always want to in an arm race to beat each other prices.

    Google does not want to do that. That is an anti-thesis of a capital economy. It is not the search which makes Google $150 Billion company. It is the business model which is broken. Instead of Google being in the arm race to beat each other prices, it puts its consumers in the arm race to beat each other bids! Wonderful for Google but evil for public. Each search public do on Google, the public pay 10 cents to 20 cents to Google (estimated). Obviously it does not cost this much to Google to serve each search. Any other business model would put Google in the realm of normal competitive market and it would then keep marginally higher than what it costs.

    Now look at the comment number 5 on this post. This comment actually nails the market dynamism. Microsoft rewrads users, then Yahoo rewards and then Google does. Finally users would see big bucks. It would be easily possible to give back few dollars every month to a search user, therefore Google starts competing. The main problem is the comment number 45. It is easy to game the system.

  67. Robert, I think you are absolutely right. But the winner won’t be Microsoft alone, it will also be the public — the search users! (Assuming Microsoft or Yahoo plan to give substantial portion back)

    I thin you love your 60inch Sony HD TV. How much did you pay for it? How much would you pay for it today? I am sure much less. Why? Because the companies always want to in an arm race to beat each other prices.

    Google does not want to do that. That is an anti-thesis of a capital economy. It is not the search which makes Google $150 Billion company. It is the business model which is broken. Instead of Google being in the arm race to beat each other prices, it puts its consumers in the arm race to beat each other bids! Wonderful for Google but evil for public. Each search public do on Google, the public pay 10 cents to 20 cents to Google (estimated). Obviously it does not cost this much to Google to serve each search. Any other business model would put Google in the realm of normal competitive market and it would then keep marginally higher than what it costs.

    Now look at the comment number 5 on this post. This comment actually nails the market dynamism. Microsoft rewrads users, then Yahoo rewards and then Google does. Finally users would see big bucks. It would be easily possible to give back few dollars every month to a search user, therefore Google starts competing. The main problem is the comment number 45. It is easy to game the system.

  68. As I’ve had problems with two Xbox 360 units I’ve had, I am largely skeptical just yet about the value of points/achievements. In addition, points without a true value really don’t mean anything to me personally.

    “John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.”

    I am not aware of anything that I can truly trade for of value using the Xbox 360. Am I missing something? I can trade my miles for flights on the airlines…

    Note: I am actually a fan of your blog. I just don’t see how the mentioned item(s) will really change anything for MS.

  69. As I’ve had problems with two Xbox 360 units I’ve had, I am largely skeptical just yet about the value of points/achievements. In addition, points without a true value really don’t mean anything to me personally.

    “John: you ever fly on an airline? You ever hear of “frequent flier miles or points?”

    Same thing.

    Marketers have been doing this to us for years.”

    I am not aware of anything that I can truly trade for of value using the Xbox 360. Am I missing something? I can trade my miles for flights on the airlines…

    Note: I am actually a fan of your blog. I just don’t see how the mentioned item(s) will really change anything for MS.

  70. Reading this again, I find the whole idea rather stupid. It’s a temporary gain at best — grasping at straws.

    What are any of these companies really hoping to achieve?

    Microsoft is an OS/apps company. That is their bread and butter.

    Google is a once-good search engine company turned into a marketing/advertising compamy.

    Yahoo is the only company out there that has any hope of turning itself into a real, pervasive media company. I can see Yahoo becoming a TV network one day. I can see them as THE bridging portal from offline to online life. I just cannot see MS or Google ever being anything other than what they are. MS has had some success with its Xbox, but I cannot see them ever trumping Nintendo or Sony.

    I want to see a company do one thing and do it well, not try to be all things to all people.

    Look at traditional Italian pizza places. The real places, not those that call themselves “traditional” places. They make and sell ONLY pizza. Not calzones, not deep dish pizza, not salads, JUST tradtional pizza. The few places that do this make a killing. If a search company just did search and nothing else, they would make a killing. Forget the ads, forget the marketing. Just do search and do it better than all others. Sell search devices. Consult on data mining and search. I want to see just a search company. The closest we have to this is Ask.com, unfortunately.

  71. Reading this again, I find the whole idea rather stupid. It’s a temporary gain at best — grasping at straws.

    What are any of these companies really hoping to achieve?

    Microsoft is an OS/apps company. That is their bread and butter.

    Google is a once-good search engine company turned into a marketing/advertising compamy.

    Yahoo is the only company out there that has any hope of turning itself into a real, pervasive media company. I can see Yahoo becoming a TV network one day. I can see them as THE bridging portal from offline to online life. I just cannot see MS or Google ever being anything other than what they are. MS has had some success with its Xbox, but I cannot see them ever trumping Nintendo or Sony.

    I want to see a company do one thing and do it well, not try to be all things to all people.

    Look at traditional Italian pizza places. The real places, not those that call themselves “traditional” places. They make and sell ONLY pizza. Not calzones, not deep dish pizza, not salads, JUST tradtional pizza. The few places that do this make a killing. If a search company just did search and nothing else, they would make a killing. Forget the ads, forget the marketing. Just do search and do it better than all others. Sell search devices. Consult on data mining and search. I want to see just a search company. The closest we have to this is Ask.com, unfortunately.

  72. Dazla…the thing is…this points scam is just like rebates. If the rebate usage rate were to approach 100%, you’d never see another rebate in your life. Rebates are a great way to not lower a price, but make people think they COULD get it for cheaper. The truth is, most people don’t bother, the hoops are too annoying. If they can give you a rebate, why not just chop the price by the rebate amount?

    Because then everyone gets it at a reduced cost instead of the motivated cheap bastiges :-)

    Same thing with the points. Microsoft knows that the usage rate on that crap will NEVER hit 100%, so they can reap great PR while doing no real work.

    But then again, no one ever got poor gambling on the laziness or stupidity of the US Consumer.

  73. Dazla…the thing is…this points scam is just like rebates. If the rebate usage rate were to approach 100%, you’d never see another rebate in your life. Rebates are a great way to not lower a price, but make people think they COULD get it for cheaper. The truth is, most people don’t bother, the hoops are too annoying. If they can give you a rebate, why not just chop the price by the rebate amount?

    Because then everyone gets it at a reduced cost instead of the motivated cheap bastiges :-)

    Same thing with the points. Microsoft knows that the usage rate on that crap will NEVER hit 100%, so they can reap great PR while doing no real work.

    But then again, no one ever got poor gambling on the laziness or stupidity of the US Consumer.