Xbox Kinect Innovation Analysis

Topics: Innovation, Diffusion of innovations, Marketing Pages: 10 (3051 words) Published: December 5, 2013
This innovation, originally developed by Microsoft under the codename of Project Natal, was finally released under the Kinect name on November 4, 2010 and entered the Guinness World Record Book by being the fastest-selling customer electronics device . Even though it was initially designed for video games, it now applies to real-world uses. Kinect is a motion-sensing system based around a depth camera that enables the user to control and to interact intuitively, and especially without any in-between controller, by using an interface with speech and gesture recognition. We then become the controller. Kinect was a combination of creativity and successful implementation of ideas into a marketable concept. Indeed, it all started when Don Mattrick got hired by Microsoft to manage the Xbox segment. He challenged the whole team to bring gaming to a whole new level by getting rid of controllers . Kinect is a pure commercial product innovation (opposed to process, marketing and organisational innovation). It raised major strategic dilemmas to Microsoft because innovations are more complex than just inventions, as they necessitate the stage where the product needs to be taken to the market place. For example, this requires steps like designing the business model, choosing the right time to enter the market, protecting the innovation… We can say that Kinect is now in the transitional phase of the product innovation. It puts the competitive emphasis on product variation with for example the adaptable software to Windows in 2012 or also includes one stable/dominant design.

Source: (Figure by Utterback & Abernathy 1975)

Kinect could be categorized, under Henderson and Clark’s typology (1990), as a radical innovation. Indeed, relatively similar technology existed through the PlayStation Move and Wii Remote but they both required using a controller. With Kinect, core components (integrating RGB and 3D depth cameras) were changed compared to previous devices for video gaming, as well as the architecture/linkages (different mechanisms/software’s for input), which makes it a totally new motion-sensing technology in the gaming industry. Kinect therefore confirmed the theory stating that “a radical innovation results in a product that is so superior that existing products are rendered non-competitive” (Innovaders, 2011).

Source: (Figure by Henderson & Clark 1990)

Kinect can also clearly be defined as a disruptive technology. It is a disruptive innovation in the way that it interrupts the way things were done previously. In other words, Kinect totally replaced the existing system of controllers. But more than just technology itself is the impact of such disruption. Indeed, the technology did not impact the video game industry only, but also has affected other industries that implemented it. Microsoft came up with a completely revolutionary technology enabling the video games users to play without using any controller. They created a technological discontinuity towards their competitors that could be associated to some disruptive effects. To illustrate these concepts of radical and disruptive innovation and to explain how Kinect displaced previous technologies, we could also use the technology S-Curve model.

Source: (Figure by Smith 2012)

We can obviously say the sources of innovation for Microsoft’s motion-sensing device come from two different origins, on one side there is some “science” and on the other side we can find the development of the users’ needs. Even though some may consider it has a part of imitation from previous technologies already available on the market, Kinect is totally new in the way it does not require any controller any longer. In addition, the development of this device was clearly not invented by chance or failure. From the sources of innovation we can therefore understand that this innovation came from both a Technology Push and a Market Pull...
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