Any excitement that I may have had after setting up the Xbox One, putting up with the lengthy software update, and installing a few apps was dashed the moment that I inserted my first game into the drive slot. I was greeted with a disc that didn't go all the way in, followed by a grinding sound as if Steve Ballmer had shrunk down to a mischievous sprite, working a hand crank from inside the box to keep any all optical discs out of my $500 paperweight.
OK, I can still dive into all of the digital goodies the Xbox One provides, including streaming video services and the slick integration with live TV. However, there's no point in getting too engaged with a box and hard drive that I need to get replaced. Here's a video so you can share in my pain.
I'm not alone. Twitter is ablaze with the trending #xboxonebroken hashtag from gamers cracking open defective consoles this weekend. It probably isn't doing Microsoft any favors that it's suggesting folks tweet their problems to its @XboxSupport handle on Twitter. It's only making the incompetence go viral. This is a mess, and it seems to go way beyond any hardware hiccups that tend to accompany system rollouts. Sony (NYSE:SNE) must be licking its lips as it positions its cheaper PS4 as the console to buy this critical holiday shopping season.
Naturally the switch to AMD's chip architecture isn't the problem. Sony made the switch to AMD last week -- all three consoles are now fueled by AMD -- and the number of complaints for the PS4 have been minimal and manageable. This is just another hardware blunder for Microsoft's Xbox platform.
Microsoft just isn't very good at the hardware thing. It hasn't sold enough Surface, Kin, or Zune devices in its history to gauge its competence on those gadgets, but it has never had a problem selling a ton of defective consoles. The Xbox 360 suffered so many failure issues that Microsoft had to take a roughly $1 billion charge to extend the system's warranty.
This wouldn't be so bad if the Xbox was a product line that Microsoft wanted to unload, as reports suggested earlier this month if Stephen Elop is incredulously tapped as its next CEO. However, Microsoft has made it clear that it wants to transform itself from being a software company to one that specializes in devices and services. However, Mr. Softy doesn't do devices well, at all. It's not an area of core competency at the meandering tech giant. It's an area of core incompetency.