Xbox launches the Xphone and Xtv

In a surprise move this morning the news broke that Xbox extended their product portfolio beyond the gaming console with two phones and a two television models. The reasoning for Xbox to make this move is too further deepen the penetration into the living room and consumer electronics.

The two Xphones are both beautifully designed and engineered and share the same impressive technical specifications, outperforming most of the competitors. The two Xphones each have a different design, attracting different audiences. Both Xphones have a carbon fiber casing with an illuminated silver and green X logo we know so well from the Xbox. The logo is touch sensitive and is used to wake the phones from sleep, putting the touch interface to a new level. The difference between the Xphones is clearly visible in the front. The first more stylish model features a chrome frame around the slightly curved screen that is decorated with Swarovsky crystals, clearly a design element to attract a younger female audience. The other Xphone uses a titanium frame with leather inlays, to give it a rougher, tougher and more male oriented appearance. Both designs could easily have into a cheap looking direction, but the Italian design company outperformed and created two very stylish fashion icons. The effort that has been put into the design clearly pays of, it absolutely outclasses the phones currently on the market. Just the design alone will make the Xphones the hottest want to have items for this holiday season.

The Xtv is as stylisch as the Xphones and also comes with a slightly curved screen and the choice of a chrome or titanium frame around the screen and a simular carbon fiber casing as the Xphones. The illuminated X logo is put on the front and also serves as the on/off switch and lights up when you wake the Xtv with the remote or your Xphone serving as the remote. The Xtv supports an integrated Kinect module to control the Xtv, but of course also to make it a compelling upgrade for your existing Xbox.

The launch of these two new products are quite a change for Microsoft, the company beyond the Xbox:
  1. Microsoft finally decided that Xbox will be the consumer brand in the living room, the Microsoft name is hardly visible on any of the new Xproducts. 
  2. Microsoft is now a hardware company that put design at the highest level and makes their current hardware partners looking bleak. This absolutely will cause a stirr in their partner channel, but I have to agree it will be the only way to survive in a highly competitive consumer business.
  3. Microsoft clearly shows they are able to innovate and break down existing barriers, meaning nobody in the Microsoft eco-system is safe!
  4. Microsoft under the name Xbox is entering a new phase in their already impressive history.

It will be very hard to ignore these gorgeous products because they are the ultimate combination and integration of hard- and software. The attention for detail that has gone into these products is beyond imagination.

Disclaimer: This story is of course NOT true and completely MADE UP based on a dream I was having a few nights ago. I like Windows Phone, but I don't see myself buying one unless it comes combined with break through hardware designs that makes Apple products feel dated and ugly.

Improve your User Experience - Hire a Professional

Will Code 4 FoodBesides setting up my own business, more on that later, I freelance an make my experience available for others. This mainly is with software companies that are seeking the next phase in their product development, this might be technology oriented, but quite often is also user oriented. For the technology oriented assignments I'm often the outside expert, while for the User Experience focussed assignments I'm the evangelist. I'm not a User Experience professional, but I can help you building a User Experience team and the first advice I usually give is: Hire User Experience professionals.

Unfortunately this advice is often received with a lot of skepticism, the key reasons are:
  • A user experience specialist doesn't understand our business or product
  • We have product managers that exactly know what the customer wants
  • We already have user groups that provide deep customer insights
  • Having additional people involved will only slowdown the product development process
  • We outsource the design and artwork

My reply is always: These are exactly the reasons you need to hire User Experience professionals, because they:
  • Are trained in and have skills to objectively qualify and quantify the needs and wishes of your customers.
  • Lack the tunnel vision of being years in the business and help you with the right priorities
  • Can facilitate and moderate your user groups and use methods to dive even deeper into the needs of your customers
  • The overall process might slowdown, but you get improved priorities and thus your create more customer value.
  • User Experiences is much more about user insights, interaction design as it is graphical design and artwork.

Putting my deeds where my mouths is: The first hire on the payroll of my new business is a User Experience designer! I'm not only giving the advice, I'm actually following it up!

Image: Zach Dill