View Full Version : Interview with Jeff Bell - Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Marketing

November 22nd, 2007, 21:20
Today's contribution comes from Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Marketing, Interactive Entertainment Business, Jeff Bell. Bell more or less made his debut at this year's E3 by getting whooped in Madden by Reggie Bush. With Peter Moore moving over to Electronic Arts, expect to see more from Bell on Microsoft's side.

* GI: You're talking about the variety of choices that people have. I was at a retail store over the weekend, and I literally saw a mom standing in front of the Xbox 360 kiosk, and there were four different SKUs. You had the Elite, the Pro, the Halo edition and then the Arcade. She sat and stared for about a minute, then she picked up the phone and asked, "Which one are we supposed to get him for Christmas?" Do you think having four different SKUs is a little confusing for the consumer?
* Bell: Well, the good news is she bought one. You know, there is a potential that four is more confusing than one. I have a lot of respect for the consumer. I look at, for instance, being at Best Buy last evening myself, doing some holiday shopping, I think I saw 47 different cellular phones on display. I look over at the appliance section, and I think there must be two dozen different refrigerators that people can look at. I have a lot of respect for the intelligence of the savvy consumer. For us, we really have three. The special-edition Halo 3 system is for the fanboys, and there are a few left--although there aren't that many left after the launch. So I think we'll get back to three there. We change the exterior packaging as well to make it a little simpler for people to see what the contents are, using graphics and major messaging. So that's a good problem to have. I think the three price points, the content that's held within, should allow people to find the system that's right for them. I think the one common denominator with all of those is again the competitive advantage we hold with Xbox Live. It is a free service. People can plug in and make available all of the features of Marketplace, whether it is the Arcade games that are very affordable. We continue to get closer to over 100 games for this holiday that people can download and play for 500 Microsoft Points, which is 6 or 7 dollars, which makes it much more affordable for families. Or on the Marketplace, to be able to preview the demos and the trailers of games that have come out. So we're feeling like in any of those three choices, people are going to be able to find the thing that's right for them that gets them the most joy and happiness as a family.

* GI: You said that you've had a 90 percent customer-satisfaction rating. What about the mass amount of people who are experiencing the "red ring of death"? People who I talk to that are buying 360s almost expect it. How are you actually fixing this problem, and are you seeing the rate of hardware returns going down at all?
* Bell: Well, there are a couple of things. First off, the 90 percent has not taken one change during the entire summer period, when we came out with what was a historic--and we obviously feel very badly about those that had problems, but we feel very proud of our stance behind our product and brand. We set aside the funds necessary to pay for the shipping and repair of any console that experiences that particular signal for failure. We found that both the retail-sales people as well as our consumers find it to be obviously very unpleasant, but they also give a lot of credence to how firm we put our support behind our business and they respect that. We've also decrease, on a market basis, the amount of time between sending a box off and then getting it back repaired. We've seen a market decrease in any repeat repairs, and overall, the new boxes that we're shipping, we've put fixes in place that give us confidence that this is going to be something that hopefully will become a distant memory in our history as opposed to something that we will see going forward.