Thompson: Kinect shortages are "absolutely not" engineered
UK general manager unequivocal that "these things are never managed"
Neil Thompson, the general manager for Xbox in the UK and Ireland, has put an end to any rumours that Kinect shortages may have been managed to stimulate demand by making the product appear more sought after.
The shortages, he told GamesIndustry.biz, are entirely down to the vast logistical challenges involved in bringing a new consumer technology product to market worldwide – Microsoft has done everything it can to ensure a continual supply of stock to retailers.
"Anyone who actually works in the business of producing new technology, especially hardware technology, will know that these things are never managed. Everyone else loves to think that they're managed, but they will know it's not. It's a function of coming to market with a brand new innovation and you have to scale up," said Thompson.
Previously, Don Mattrick had warned US consumers to order their Kinect units early to avoid disappointment, as Microsoft were anticipating stock shortages before Christmas.
This led some to believe that Microsoft was controlling the flow of hardware to retailers in order to accentuate demand – an accusation which has also been levelled at both Nintendo and Sony in the past. Thompson, however, made clear that any large-scale technology launch will have to make compromises on available units in order to meet release schedules.
"The choices you always have are: do we launch in November or do we wait until February, March when we could hit some bigger launch numbers but then we miss Christmas. So you're always in this fine balance, saying 'well, we want to give people the product as soon as we can, but you can't switch on the manufacturing like water.' It takes time to scale."
"It's absolutely not a strategy, we want to get the product into consumers hands as quickly as we can because we think its exciting, it's innovative. We wanted to do that for Christmas and that's what we've done. We've built a really strong supply and resupply chain over the coming weeks."
Thompson was speaking as part of an interview with GamesIndustry.biz on the future of the Xbox 360 on its fifth birthday.
Also in the room was UK Xbox marketing manager Stephen McGill, who made the point that Kinect had seen a very accelerated release schedule worldwide, eschewing the staggered strategy which many manufacturers adopt.
"Often consumer electronics companies and games companies have staggered their launches by territory by some quite considerable margins. With Kinect we launched around the world in three weeks. That was a huge task. No region is being penalised," said McGill.
"We're trying to make sure every region has a good amount of stock every week. That can't be underestimated either."
The full interview wiht Thompson and McGill can be read here.