Should Microsoft bring Xbox LIVE to other mobile platforms?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
When we talk about something, we tend to lean towards the advantage of that thing to support our stance. When we’re talking about something with someone else, it usually comes down to that advantage if we’re trying to defend how great something is, or why that one thing may triumph against the competition. For Microsoft, they believe they have a few advantages up their sleep when it comes to Windows Phone 7, and the company would be right. After all, Microsoft Word is still used all over the planet to get word processing handled. And when it comes to gaming, Xbox LIVE’s presence is a constant one. But that’s on PCs and home video game consoles respectively. How can Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service jump to the top in the mobile market?
In the past we talked about that single feature that stands-out on a mobile platform. It’s one of the features that people talk about to their friends to try and convince them that their mobile platform of choice is better than everyone else’s. Or, just to brag about why your operating system is just better. Which is fine. Simply put, each mobile OS has great features that stand out amidst the competition. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t even be talked about in today’s cramped and competitive market. But just standing out isn’t the point anymore – it’s about standing out and drawing in new customers.
In the mobile market, Xbox LIVE can’t stand out on its own. LIVE’s presence isn’t the same here in this market as it is in the home video game console wars. Xbox LIVE is a great service that brings gamers together all over the world, but unfortunately for the mobile market it just doesn’t have the same presence. Why? Simply because it isn’t just about the service in this particular market. What actually defines it isn’t something that the service can even help, and that would be the phone. Or, specifically, the phones. While it’s great that Microsoft has implanted Xbox LIVE into their phones, and made it a pretty good feature to boot, it’s literally hindered (and supported, ironically enough) by the fact that it’s on a plethora of phones from different manufacturers.
Some might say that being supported by the same company is strength, but I actually think that if Microsoft really wants Xbox LIVE to not just stand out, but actually flourish in this market, they need to branch Xbox LIVE out to other platforms. Like I said above, this isn’t the console wars, and Microsoft should be attacking the mobile market in a different way. If you want to really go after the competition, you make your feature or service stand out on the competition’s platform, too.
No, this isn’t a method that all manufacturers use. But, to be blunt, the majority of other manufacturers don’t have a stand out feature like LIVE. Yes, all of the major platforms have features that draw in new customers, but iOS, Android, webOS, BlackBerry OS, or Symbian don’t have something like Xbox LIVE as a feature on their phones. So this is a situation that is unique to Microsoft, so they could make some waves with a move like putting Xbox LIVE on iOS (or Android, BlackBerry OS or webOS for that matter). By providing the service to the already impressive user base on iOS, you’ve jumped that many more subscribers right out of the gate. And obviously the iOS-based hardware (in its most recent design, anyway) can run the games that are promoting Xbox LIVE certification (and Achievements).
If you really want to succeed, you make users on the competition’s platform want to use your service, and the easiest ways to do that is put that service on the competition’s platform and watch it explode. I’ve heard people say they want Xbox LIVE as a mobile experience, but they won’t transition to a Windows Phone because they don’t want Windows Phone 7, or because they simply like their mobile OS and are accustomed to it. If Microsoft could find a way to get to those people, to really promote LIVE’s services and games and Achievements to the people who don’t want to transition to Windows Phone for whatever reason, then Microsoft would just be adding subscribers.
This is just a simple question, when it comes down to it. If you’re currently using another mobile OS other than Windows Phone, would you use Xbox LIVE if Microsoft managed to bring the service (and games) to your platform? Or do you think Xbox LIVE can sell Windows Phone in the future? Let me know in the comments below what you think.