XBOX Japan market entry strategy

Three years after market entry XBOX has achieved 0.2% sales market share in Japan

Will XBOX price cut help?

Microsoft introduced the original XBOX game console in the USA on November 15, 2001, in Japan on February 22, 2002, and in Europe on March 14, 2002.

During the period January-June 2005, three years after introduction of the XBOX to Japan’s market, SONY sold about 2.4 Million game terminals in Japan, Nintendo sold about 1.9 Million, and Microsoft about 9000 XBOXes, about 0.2% marketshare.

As of August 24, 2008, Nintendo has sold about 6.7 Million Wii, SONY has sold about 2.3 PS3, and Microsoft about 380,000 XBOX-360 in Japan, a 4% share in this segment.

A few days ago, Microsoft announced a price cut of 30% for XBOX-360 in Japan – the video below gives our comments on this price reduction on CNBC.

Here is a short summary of the CNBC-TV interview:

Q: Do you think the price reduction is going to do the trick?

A: No. In other markets maybe, but not in Japan.

Q: Do you think XBOX can be successful in Japan? What will it take before Microsoft will give up and say it just isn’t working

A: Of course Microsoft can be successful in Japan with XBOX. There is no law that XBOX cannot be successful in Japan. Microsoft generally is a company that never gives up. But they have to change their strategy for Japan.

Q: So Microsoft isn’t doing the right things. What would the right things be?

A: Difficult to say of course, if it was easy Microsoft would already have done this. The situation is that Nintendo has completely changed the business paradigm of the game industry. Microsoft’s XBOX is still operating under the old paradigm.

Q: How long do you think Nintendo’s sweetspot is going to last?

A: Nintendo have reinvented the game industry, and completely changed the business models. They also make a lot of their own software. All this puts Nintendo into a very good position.

What can we learn about strategy for Japan from Microsoft’s XBOX experience:
Global products, not adapted to Japan’s market, often do not succeed in Japan. Microsoft’s XBOX is a very good example. Microsoft has one of Japan’s most famous brands, so its not a problem of the brand.

Microsoft faces three problems in Japan:

  1. XBOX is not made for Japanese users in mind
  2. Nintendo changed the paradigm of the game industry, and XBOX is still on the old track
  3. Of three global game console companies (Nintendo, SONY, Nintendo) two are both much stronger than Microsoft in games, and both are on their hometurf in Japan. Microsoft would need to invest more and focus efforts much more on Japan to succeed in Japan with XBOX.

Learn about Japan’s game markets

Japan game market report (398 pages, pdf-file):
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