PlayStation 4 and XBox One Battle for Christmas Sales

PlayStation 4PlayStation 4 and X-Box One battle for Christmas sales this year with their new systems.  So far, with a lower price point and a forward-thinking design, Sony appears to have the edge with the PlayStation 4. While both systems are light on quality original games, the Christmas season is driving consumers that might otherwise wait for that content to make their purchases based on design and functionality.  In these areas, Microsoft may have gone in a direction that is less forward-thinking than the PlayStation 4.  The XBox Platform has a price tag that is $100 more than the PlayStation 4, banking on the voice recognition capabilities and the ability to integrate the system with cable television systems being enough of a draw to justify the added expense.

Microsoft may have made a miscalculation by creating a system so tied to the family living room.  The new Kinect camera has some features which reviewers have found impressive.  The system suffers from the same problems which plague voice recognition programs in every incarnation, however, and can demonstrate significant inconsistency.  Users tend to get frustrated when using the technology, and the advantage turns quickly to a detriment.  In addition the current trend  toward mobile functionality, especially the ability to stream games live, is not represented in the XBox  platform.  Being largely a matter of software, it seems clear that this is an area where Microsoft will be rushing to catch up with their competition.

Sony, on the other hand, appears to have crafted their offering with an eye to current trends.  The entire design of the console and controller has been met with considerable approval so far. In particular, people are impressed with a long-awaited re-design of the console. It is the first update to that design in seven years. The interface is responsive, and has new functionality that has many new users have found impressive. The most talked-about features are the ability to handle many concurrent downloads at the same time and the ability to broadcast games live. Microsoft, having recognized the shortfall, promises to add that functionality in the coming year. For the time being, though, the XBox One may be losing the battle for Christmas sales to PlayStation 4 based on that lack of functionality which is in such high demand.

That shortfall seems evident when looking at opening sales for the two platforms. Microsoft launched the XBox One console in 13 markets, and sold over a million units in the first 24 hours. Sony launched the PlayStation 4 in just two markets, the US and Canada, and still sold over a million units within 24 hours. The system is now available in all markets worldwide and seems poised to separate itself quickly as the more popular system.  While the XBox One seems to be doing well despite the price difference and design flaws, it seems clear that significant software upgrades will be coming fast and furious from Microsoft to bridge the functionality gap. If the XBox One system cannot promise more impressive proprietary content, the battle for Christmas sales may have already been won by the Playstation4.

By Jim Malone