INTERVIEW PART 2: Yusuf Mehdi, Xbox CMO

Leigh Harris
INTERVIEW PART 2: Yusuf Mehdi, Xbox CMO

Following on from yesterday, MCV continues its talk with CMO for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business on all things Xbox.

It seems that across the board, with games, TV and now even the box itself, Microsoft is positioning the Xbox as a service rather than as a product. Is that how you see it?

Yeah, and I think that’s really well put. That is exactly how we think about it, and that’s exactly what you’ve seen today at this E3 briefing.

Xbox is becoming our premium entertainment service brand for Microsoft, and it includes hardware and software experiences – it runs on the console and the TV and it runs on tablets and it runs on your phone (it’ll run on Windows 8). We’re bringing it everywhere, so you’re right to think of it as more of a service in which things come with it, as opposed to “I’ve just bought a box, now I need to go buy other things to do with it.”

So is it all about software integration for Microsoft right now as opposed to new physical product?

No, I think it’s actually a hybrid world. You’ll see both sets of things, we’re still keen to build breakthrough hardware experiences and products. The Kinect (which was released only two years ago) transformed entirely how you use your television. You’ll see us continue to look for new ways to do that.

Part of what we're doing is providing more value through software to make all of your devices smarter and have them work together and to create new value.

This year is the seventh year of this generation. Usually you see a big decline in volume sales and in excitement. The opposite is the case: in year five we outsold year four, in year six we outsold  year five, in year seven we’ve outsold year six. You never see that traditionally. The reasons that has happened is twofold. The first is software innovation (like we showed today about enabling all new sets of games across devices), and part of it is hardware. We shipped Kinect and that changed the way you interact with the Xbox, so in the future you’ll see both aspects continue to be pushed from Microsoft.

You mentioned in the press briefing that you were ‘doubling’ the number of TV services available on the console this year. The rollout for these kinds of services is much slower in Australia and New Zealand (or other outlying territories).

Is the message Microsoft is delivering about Xbox different in those territories to what it is in the US considering that this rollout is still in its infancy?

My statement about ‘doubling’ was global, so that's all-in. We’ve fleshed out more in the US. In the next year, you’re going to see us really expand more rapidly into more worldwide offerings. You saw some of those things get announced today, such as bringing Bing search to 12 additional markets (today we’re in 3). All of the ability to use language in those markets and being in Kinect is going to come.

You’ll really see us investing. That’s voice work is the hardest thing to do, and we’re aiming to be in 15 markets within a year.

How would you pitch the Xbox afresh if you were to launch it today with all the current functionality in-built?

The way you’d talk about it would be to say that it is Microsoft’s premium entertainment service for movies, music, TV and gaming, that lights up across all your devices and makes the entertainment that you love today more amazing. That’s what it is.

And the examples would be that sports get more amazing as you use your devices to get stats, you can play games on the sports with your friends. The TV you watch gets more amazing, because now you can get these second experiences with the companion programs which tell you about the show and are synched with the show. Gaming will get more amazing because now you have the additional capabilities (with voices in Kinect) in some of the games you saw today. And finally music gets more amazing as you bring it all across too.

So that’s the pitch, and that’s our value prop we hope to deliver on in the years to come.

Thank you for your time.

 

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Tags: Microsoft , interview , marketing , Xbox , e3 , services , TV apps , Yusuf Mehdi

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