The pricing of the Xbox One has been shifted again, and this time Microsoft is going in circles with it. The gaming console, which originally debuted with a $499 price tag and the forced bundling of the Kinect, was unbundled and dropped to $399 when new CEO Satya Nadella took over the company. That price tag dropped further to $349 over the holidays, then shifted back to its regular $399, and is now already being shifted back to $349. And now it raises the question of whether Nadella knows what he’s doing.
Nadella’s decision to slash the Xbox One to $399 when he took over Microsoft was the correct call, and it fixed a key mistake made by his predecessor Steve Ballmer. The original pricing opened the door for Sony’s PlayStation 4 to regain momentum in the gaming market, and reducing it to a comparable price appeared reasonable. But the subsequent yo-yo strategy on pricing only serves to confuse buyers, or worse, to motivate them to hold off on their planned purchases in the hope that the price may fall even further before long.
The Xbox One pricing misdirection adds to a growing list of questionable moves which Nadella has made since he took over the company. He’s slashed thousands of jobs at Microsoft which the company could have afforded to keep intact; he’s launched a series of bizarre commercials for the Surface Pro which mostly consist of taking pot shots at Apple’s MacBook, in a manner which no knowledgeable consumer would find credible; and in his most infamous flub, he suggested that women working in the tech industry shouldn’t ask for raises if they’re being paid less than their male counterparts.
Is he the man to lead Microsoft back to relevance at a time when the company is being left behind by the likes of Apple, Google, and Samsung? That remains to be seen. But while the Xbox One pricing yo-yo may not be good news for the future of the platform, it is welcome news for those who are looking to acquire one on the cheap.