Microsoft goes through the motions as Kinect breaks records

It's official: Microsoft's Kinect is flying off the shelves at a record rate - even outselling the iPad (well, sort of).

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 22 Jul 2011
In recent years, Microsoft has spent a lot of time trailing behind the likes of Google and Apple. But there’s no doubt its latest wheeze has been a massive hit: the Guinness Book of Records says that Kinect, the motion-sensing device that allows Xbox gamers to use their bodies as controllers, has become the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history. Apparently, Microsoft managed to shift 8m units between November 4 and January 3 – an average of 133,333 units a day. That’s more than both the iPhone and the iPad for the equivalent post-launch periods…

According to Microsoft, that figure has risen even further since January: it says it has now shipped 10m Kinects worldwide, along with 10m games designed for the product (although, given that the majority will have more than one game, does that mean some people have the controller but no games to play on it? weird). Either way, it’s another big success for Microsoft, after its new operating system Windows 7 was also well-received by consumers (selling over 300m copies thus far).

And with Kinect outstripping the iPad, it looks like Microsoft may actually have bragging rights over Apple for the first time in a while (albeit the two products aren’t directly comparable). But actually, it’s not necessarily clear-cut: the Kinect launched in November, just before the Christmas rush, while the iPad launched in April – hardly a peak time for consumer electronics sales. So perhaps a fairer comparison would be to give both devices a year on the shelves. And if you look at the figures (Kinect sales have dropped by half since the beginning of January, while iPad sales continue to sell like hot cakes), Apple may yet have the last laugh.

Of course, the success of these products depends to a large extent on how good the supporting products are. And games don’t come much more frighteningly compulsive than Angry Birds, the mobile phenomenon that’s now been downloaded by more than 40m people. Rovio, the Finnish company behind the game, is apparently now worth a ridiculous €50m (£43m), and has just raised $42m (£26.2m) from various VC firms, including Facebook backer Accel Partners.

Three trillion pigs have been obliterated by the frustrated fowls, while the truly dedicated fan can now buy stuffed toys, clothes and figurines. But according to Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstromm, who’s joining Rovio’s board, there’s plenty more to come – in fact, he says the company is ‘just at the beginning’ of its growth curve. It’s a great example of the value of perseverance: Rovio released 51 games before it struck gold with its animated avians. Microsoft will hope it can come up with some similar success stories in the coming years…

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