Microsoft had a good October. With 393,000 Xbox consoles sold in the US, last month saw 21% growth over the same month last year. Of course, Kinect was released last November so, when given a chance to talk with Microsoft product manager David Dennis about sales numbers, I asked if he thought monthly sales numbers would exceed last November and December's.
"The rule of thumb you can look at," Dennis explained, "is you take October and you double it and that's your November and you double your November and that's your December." With that rule of thumb in mind, our napkin math puts this November's Xbox 360 sales at 786K, far short of last November's staggering 1.37 million Xbox consoles. But Dennis said that there's "an incredible amount of momentum behind the platform right now," and Microsoft is hopeful that Kinect can strike holiday gold a second year in a row. "Don said at E3 we're going to go from the best-selling console in the US to the best-selling console worldwide," Dennis reminded us. To get there, the console's upcoming Dashboard revamp is going to be prominently featured in holiday marketing.
"Purely from an advertising, marketing and communications point of view, you're going to see Kinect comericials all over the place," Dennis said. "And those aren't just going to be your Kinect Sports and Dance Central commercials, but they're going to be commercials that educate people about how you can use your voice to control your entertainment. And show the diversity of all the content partners, and live entertainment partners coming."
"...people will be coding up to the last minute until we can deploy [the new dashboard], and things always come in hot."
Since there's still no specific launch window for the new Dashboard update outside of "this year," we asked how Microsoft would market those new features outside of advertising. Dennis explained that "it'll make its way into the packaging similar to how Netflix and Facebook are on the boxes now," though admitted that probably wouldn't happen until next year. "The consoles we're going to be selling for this holiday are either on a boat or in a warehouse for the most part, except for maybe some late December stuff."
There may not be much in-store promotion of these new features. "The timing doesn't always work out, that you can get kiosks updated," he said. "Just like a game, people will be coding up to the last minute until we can deploy it, and things always come in hot." But retailers drove Kinect sales last year, and Microsoft is hoping to repeat that success. "We've got amazing offers coming in the pipeline [...] great bargain prices. We're working really close with our retail partners to push Kinect, push Kinect games, and really continue to fuel the fire around it."
As for how Kinect has done since last March – the last time we got an official announcement of sales – Dennis said Microsoft would "put some new numbers out probably around the CES timeframe." When asked if Kinect sales this year were expected to beat last year's numbers, he said that while Microsoft doesn't share specific forecasting, "We feel great about the numbers and the games we have coming for Kinect."