In this week’s episode Ben and James reflect about last week’s episode and the personal feedback that resulted, then move on to discuss why Minecraft is a big deal as well as a bit about Apple’s new focus on privacy.
- Ben Thompson: Why Now For Apple Watch – Stratechery
- Ben Thompson: Microsoft’s Good (and Potentially Great) Minecraft Acquisition – Stratechery
- Ben Thompson: American Girl, Minecraft, and the Next Generation of Builders – Stratechery (members-only)
- Ben Thompson: Apple Takes Aim at Google – Stratechery (members-only)
- Ben Thompson, @monkbent, Stratechery
- James Allworth, @jamesallworth, Harvard Business Review
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3 thoughts on “Episode 019: Me, Myself, and Minecraft”
Really appreciate the stuff you guys talked about in the first part of the podcast. I can completely relate to those situations where you get into a heated argument with a friend, and I think it’s awesome that you guys could show how to have those without damaging friendships.
I think your analysis of where Microsoft needs to go is spot on. Apple has the hardware business model. Google has the “free! (but-shh-we-track-eveything-you-do)” services business model, with hopes that your devices should be near free too. This leaves room for Microsoft to use the broad compatibility paid services and platforms par excellence with minimal tracking model.
You mentioned that Minecraft is really about being a platform for people to play. Xbox as it stands right now is an independent device. But the truth is, based on what Microsoft presented at the Build conference, they have the opportunity to change that. With universal apps, APIs, and a unified WinRT / DirectX development platform, Xbox games can run on the PC and Windows Phones / Tablets without much adjustment to the code. (Obviously performance and image detail may differ, depending on the device.) Kinect also works on the PC. This is huge. Xbox can become the game PLATFORM, not the game console. Imagine building an Xbox game that can immediately run on all Xboxes, Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Windows Tablets, or compatible Internet-of-Things devices that run Windows. And I know it’s crazy but here goes: even on an Xbox app (or framework) for iOS, Mac, or Android.
Xbox the device can become the “livingroom centric” PC, or the modern Windows Media Center. It can run your Xbox games better than anything (because of hardware, not priority), but it can also stream your media, control your TV, let you access other services like Skype, or run any Metro / WinRT app. (Remember, apps can be universal across all Windows devices.) Heck, they can even license the Xbox OS to other manufacturers, but I wouldn’t in order to keep the brand clean. This is a very different Xbox than the one today, and I think it’s one that fits into your vision for Microsoft as a whole. It will compete with Playstation in the sense that its a box in your livingroom that plays games, but it would actually be a different category of device at heart.
Microsoft will do best with top-of-the-line services that:
– You can use basic features for free (with non-invasive ad tracking, if any)
– You can use all the features with Microsoft as the host for a low monthly subscription (with no ads or tracking)
– You can host your own server (for services like Exchange, SharePoint, Skype, etc) for a pricier server version intended for businesses who need to keep data in-house but love the services MS built.
And all of these services should work across all platforms.
Windows should be charged to device manufacturers (but at a low cost), and every device should come with a lifetime of updates to newer versions for free (up to a reasonable point of compatibility). The idea is that Windows shouldn’t be a real moneymaker. It should be the platform that convinces you to buy a non-Apple or Google device (which could cause you to give up your services to them, even though MS will be available on those platforms as well). It should also allow MS to integrate their services in the best way possible. Not because they will be prioritizing Windows over other platforms, but because they simply have more control over it to enable the changes. If they can push the same integration to other platforms, they should. Put another way, Windows should be the best for MS because they can do more with it, not because they are holding back features from other platforms. (This is the same reason Apple builds their own hardware/software/services.)
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, OneNote, Internet Explorer, InfoPath, Visio, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype, Azure, Exchange, Bing Search, Bing News, Bing Sports, Bing Health & Fitness, Bing Weather, Bing Flight Search, Bing Maps, Cortana, Metro apps, Xbox Games, Xbox Music, Xbox Movies, etc, and now Minecraft. Microsoft has a TON of services that would be awesome across all platforms. And they can use Windows as a loss leader to make them shine as sparkly as possible.
Apple can’t compare to Microsoft’s software and services lineup, and Google doesn’t have the same business / productivity focus, the need to be more than good enough, or the ability for businesses to host their own in-house servers.
There is room for Microsoft in the game still. I think what I outlined here fits with the vision you described, more or less.
Absolutely agreed. Microsoft need to tread carefully following the Windows 8 fiasco. Its like Vista all over again.