How Could the Microsoft Kinect Possibly Be the Fastest-Selling Consumer Electronic?

Move over, Apple. Your almighty iPad has been trumped as the fastest selling consumer electronic by none other than…wait for it…the Xbox Kinect? Surely I can’t be the only one slightly perplexed by this, right?

According to Guinness World Records, Microsoft’s hands-free motion control sensor sold 8 million units during the first two months of its release. To put these numbers into perspective, that’s an average of 133,333 units per day! Apple’s iPad, which previously held the record for being the fastest selling consumer electronic, sold 2 million units during the first two months of its release (or an average of 33,333 units per day).

The most recent sales figure for the Kinect is 10 million units sold as of March 9, 2011. Quite impressive, I must say. There are always two sides to the story, though. The second side to this story happens to reveal something slightly peculiar about consumers’ post-purchase behavior for the Kinect. On that note, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Microsoft has also boasted selling 10 million standalone Kinect games. You may be thinking that’s a lot, but you have to consider that there are also 10 million Kinect sensors floating around. That’s a 1:1 software-hardware attach rate. In other words, for every Kinect sold there was only, on average, one game purchased for that $150 accessory. To be fair, some Kinect sensors come bundled with a game (much like the Wii console being bundled with the Wii Sports game) so that is going to bring the Kinect’s attach-rate down slightly.

So how do gaming consoles compare to the Kinect with their own software-hardware attach rates? The Xbox 360, at launch, boasted a hefty 4:1 attach rate. The Wii followed closely behind with a respectable 3:1 ratio. The Playstation 3 played catch-up during its launch with a 1.5:1 attach rate.

Is the Microsoft Kinect a massive hype machine?

Is the Microsoft Kinect a massive hype machine?

Now that we have some perspective with these attach rates, I can’t help but ask…why in the world would you buy a $150 accessory for your Xbox 360 to play only one game with it? (Keep in mind a new Xbox 360 itself costs only $199 so you’re practically purchasing a whole new system) Is Microsoft laughing all the way to the bank by playing consumers like a fiddle with its massive hype machine? There has to be some explanation to this madness.

One explanation for this is the lack of software for the Kinect. There just aren’t very many games out for it, let alone GOOD games. Arguably the best game for it is Dance Central, but that only appeals to you if you’re into dancing or flailing your body around your living room like a possessed soul (if you’re into that kinda thing). All joking aside, I’m sure it’s a fun game for some, but it’s definitely not to my taste. It just doesn’t seem like there are many games out there to hold the attention of Kinect owners, so instead they let it collect dust next to their plastic guitars (no offense to Guitar Hero/Rock Band players, but the music game craze came and went).

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the Kinect is a cool piece of technology with tons of potential and I think it’s great that it’s doing so well sales-wise, but sadly game developers aren’t taking full advantage of its capabilities. This is why I’m baffled as to how Microsoft managed to sell 10 million of these things, making it the fastest selling consumer electronic ever. The only concrete thing I learned from all of this is that Microsoft sure knows a thing or two about successful marketing!

So now I must turn to YOU, my fellow QLP blog readers, to help make sense of this insanity. Have I missed some obvious explanation to these contradicting sales numbers? Do you, or anyone you know, own a Kinect? Did Kinect owners simply get tricked by the hype machine, or is this shiny new electronic worth the investment?


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  1. Chase

    I got one! They are really fun!

    • Bret Bonnet

      I think you should invite me over so I can kick your butt in some Kinect Foosball! 🙂

      • Amanda Sneed

        Kinect Fooseball!!!!??? That sounds awesome! =)

  2. Jill Tooley

    Great post, Kyle! I had no idea that the Kinect was doing so well, let alone that it beat out the iPad in sales. Although, there is a large price difference between the two so maybe that had something to do with it.

    I think the Kinect is a fun idea in theory and I was gung-ho about it when I first heard about it, but then I found out that players need about 10 feet of free space to play it successfully, and that’s just not realistic! I can’t dance (big surprise), so at one point Dance Central appealed to me, but my living room wouldn’t be nearly big enough for that kind of flailing.

    One game per unit sold does seem pretty low. You bring up an interesting point…why would people spend so much on an attachment without many good games? And furthermore, how could they justify spending $150 on something that they only had one game for? Unless it was the most amazing game ever created, I couldn’t justify that expense. Are there really that many people out there who could (and did) justify it? If so, which game did they buy for it?

    They marketed the crap out of this thing; I couldn’t go to the XBox dashboard without seeing some dumb preview or demo for it, and GameStops practically wallpapered their stores with ads for them when they first came out. Some people just always have to have the next best thing, overhyped or not!

    Bonus question: Did you know that Harmonix, the makers of Rock Band, are behind Dance Central? Since I’m a die-hard to that company, I’m willing to bet that the game is top-notch. But that doesn’t mean it’ll actually teach my clumsy ass to dance! 😉

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Excellent post, Kyle! I’m big on statistics these days, and I’m a casual gamer as well, so I definitely find these numbers interesting.

      Given that the Kinect hardware itself is so expensive, I’m sure that Microsoft is somewhat satisfied with their sales figures. They’ve obviously made a pretty penny off of their latest device, even though sales have obviously plateaued and will likely remain that way until the next holiday season.

      I’d argue that Microsoft’s main goal in developing the Kinect was to take a bite out of the family gaming market—more specifically, Nintendo’s market. The Wii is still the top selling home console, and Microsoft is probably sick of their Xbox being the runner up (which ironically was also the case during the previous generation of consoles).

      Anyway, now that the hype surrounding the Kinect is over with, we’ll see what happens in the long run. If Microsoft can’t manage to release any great games for it in the near future, they may have to chalk it up as a failure.

      • Kyle

        I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to find these numbers interesting. Microsoft really did a great job getting consumers interested in the Kinect. It’ll be interesting to see if they can hold the attention of these 10 million Kinect owners (I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that HUGE number). Who knows, maybe I’ll be writing a post a year from now about how much I love the Kinect. Crazier things have happened so I wouldn’t be surprised.

  3. JPorretto

    Those numbers are strange indeed! If there’s a 1:1 attach rate, that means some people bought multiple games, and many bought NONE. Like you said, Wii had a bundled game, but still managed at 3:1 attach rate. I honestly have no idea what the problem could be, other than as Jill said, the requirements to play the system are pretty demanding. Maybe a lot of people bought it and THEN decided it wasn’t worth the hassle?

    • Kyle

      Great job pointing out the fact that some Kinect owners purchased ZERO games with their hardware. It seems with the 1:1 attach rate that some Kinect owners purchased the device and found that it didn’t work as smoothly as they would’ve liked or just didn’t work with their gaming setup in general due to space limitations so they ended up not purchasing any games for it at all. Some interesting stuff for sure!

  4. Scooby DOO!

    Stick with the Wii… the graphics are so much better. Bowling, tennis, golf… what else do you need?

    • Amanda Sneed

      Wii’s Ping Pong is my fave!!! =)

    • Kyle

      I wouldn’t necessarily say the Wii’s graphics are better than the Kinect’s considering the Wii outputs at sub-HD resolutions (480p maximum), while the Xbox 360 outputs at full HD (1080p maximum though most games run at 720p). The hardware running the Kinect is impressive. It’s just the games that are somewhat lackluster as of now.

  5. Amanda Sneed

    Awesome post Kyle….I had no clue that the Kinect was doing so well! But I think that’s great, I’m always excited when something for Microsoft does so well; I have never been an Apple fan. I’ve never been into video games either, well besides playing Tetris on my cell phone and Ms. Pac Man on the computer…..I will forever love those games! =) I’m thinking that maybe Kinect did so well because it was compared to the Wii (which I think most people love), but it was even better because you didn’t need any controls to hang on to. I would think that for people who like to do this kind of gaming, the price paid was worth it…..I hope they can come up with more games so that their high sales can stick around.

    • Kyle

      Thanks for the comment Amanda! I agree that the Wii’s mass appeal helped pave the way for the Kinect’s success. The market for casual gaming has grown leaps and bounds the past few years and it seems as if Microsoft took advantage of the opportunity. Now that Microsoft has moved that much hardware, hopefully they start pumping out quality games for it. Only time will tell!

  6. Dave

    I saw this on Digg and was surprised at the stats. I have a Kinect and I own 3 games for it currently with plans to buy more. i think it is amazing, I had a Wii but now I gave it to my nephew since i think the Kinect is superior. I have a small living room, I stand about 4-5 feet from the TV and the Kinect camera and it works perfectly well.

    I also hate Apple, so seeing this has outsold the iPad is awesome 🙂

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dave! Your Kinect works okay 4-5 feet away? That’s awesome! My husband and I tried one at a Play and Trade, and the manager told us that it wouldn’t work if we were that close. He made us stand like 10 feet away and we felt like major idiots! I really love the concept of the Kinect and some of the game previews look incredible. The “Child of Eden” trailer blew my mind…if I had the money I’d consider buying a Kinect for that game when it comes out! 🙂 Which games do you own (and are they any good)?

    • Kyle

      Thanks for taking the time to read this and comment. It’s good to hear a Kinect owner’s opinion on this. What games do you enjoy the most? I have to admit that I’m very interested in the technology behind it, but I have yet to find a game that grabs my attention.

  7. Bret Bonnet

    Ok – I’ll bite; 8 million units sold in the first 2 months – but how many of those were returned? 🙂

    Microsoft is good at a LOT of things, mostly software, but when it comes to marketing – not so much. They have failed to market and make any significant inroads into two major growth areas they need to in order to succeed as a business – search engine marketing (BING!) and smart phones (Windows Mobile).

    Arguably, video games, ONE of the very few things that Microsoft does very well – primarily because before they launched the Xbox almost 5 years ago, they realized video game systems don’t sell themselves – it’s the games that run on them that sell the hardware. They bought Bungie (maker of the popular “Halo” video game series) and others – so at launch the original Xbox 360 had a KILLER lineup.

    The Kinect – not so much. I’m still waiting for a version of Halo and/or Mortal Kombat to come out for the Kinect. Then, and only then, will I run out and buy one.

    … let’s not forget that BOTH the Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect were each released right before the busy holiday shopping season, one that didn’t have very many STAND OUT products this season (I know I was struggling with WHAT to by my geek brother-in-laws last year!), and the iPad came out in March, I think? Completely different sales cycles and target audience…

    If Apple made an iPad for $150.00 – I doubt there would be a person on the planet NOT sporting one. It would literally be woven into our DNA.

    • Kyle

      That’s a very good point. Comparing sales of the iPad to the sales of the Kinect is kind of like comparing apples to oranges because of the large price differences. Regardless of that though, the Kinect is still technically the fastest selling consumer electronic by a wide margin which I just find fascinating. Hopefully they can find a way back up those sales with some quality games.

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