Who will win the video game console war? Nintendo? Microsoft? Sony? Or perhaps a lurking potential player? Let me suggest a company that might or might not be thinking about entering the video game box market. How about Apple Inc.? With its flair for great design, application integration, promotional drama, marketing savvy, the Steve Jobs appeal, intensely loyal customer base and interest in the consumer sector, I dare say Apple could introduce a game console that could turn the whole market on its head.
Of the consoles that were available to customers last December, Sony's Playstation 3 was the more highly anticipated product. Nintendo's Wii seemed like an amusing sidekick, unlikely to stimulate any passionate interest. Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox wasn't spectacular. It was available but many avid video game players, including Japanese customers, would rather wait for the Playstation 3.
This month, though, it's the Wii that's hotter than an Arizona summer afternoon. Sony has just cut prices on the Playstation 3 and the Xbox may soon suffer the same fate. The lesson? Make sure your victory parade is a short one because it might soon turn into a nasty deathwatch.
I was one of those eagerly anticipating the release of the Playstation 3 last year. Based on previous experience, I knew Sony had a history of better graphics, more games, etc.; I was a motivated potential buyer, even though I hadn't seen the product
After a two-year build-up, I visited the local Best Buy retailer for a Playstation 3 last December and found none available. I lowered my expectations and pleaded for a Nintendo Wii, but a queue had already formed in front of the retailer near my house four days before the product was to hit the shop floor.
I went inside, and Microsoft's Xbox was available for immediate pickup. So I settled for my third option. Microsoft got my money. It seemed then that Microsoft had won the video game console supply chain war because Sony and Nintendo couldn't get enough of their products to market on time, at least for U.S. customers.
Now, the Nintendo Wii is outselling everyone else. Sony is cutting the price of its Playstation 3 by $100 to attract customers, and Microsoft will have to set aside $1 billion for a recall.
Victory lasts only but a nanosecond in the electronics industry today. The victory parade should be as equally short. In an environment where rivals are able to pick apart a successful strategy and replicate it or improve upon it, companies must keep a sentinel on guard at all times.
But even this might not be enough. The best strategy for today's competitive environment is not just to be aware of what the rival is up to but also to have what the customer wants today and be ahead of whatever the customer needs tomorrow.
That's why I can't wait for my next Apple toy. I am not going to join any ridiculously long queue for the iPhone, after all it is simply a juiced up mobile phones as I had previously written. But if Apple comes up with -- what shall we call it? The iGame? I might just sleep outside a Best Buy.