Even though the Xbox One S was just announced, it faces an uncertain future. The raw numbers alone can tell a person that Microsoft is clearly behind in the race of this console generation. The rough numbers tell us that Sony has out sold Microsoft to the tune of 2-to-1 with approximately 40 million units sold as compared to 20 million. If the hopes were that the Xbox One S would help mitigate this deficiency, then expectations may need adjusted. Even with the base model of the Xbox One S starting at $299, there may be few looking to buy it.
The announcement of this new console could be seen as ill-timed at best. Telling people that a slightly better version of the console they could buy today is only two or so months away will likely stop some sales. Those that were on the fence about getting an Xbox One if they didn’t have one already now have more factors to confuse and frustrate them. On one hand, they could get the current/original console right now and save a few dollars(the price is $279 at the time this was written) but then they have the old stock item and not the latest. On the other hand, waiting two more months to get the newer hardware isn’t that long to wait if you’ve held out for two and a half years already. Microsoft has further blundered this by sending mixed reports of which flavor of the new console will be available in August. Reports are that the more expensive 2TB model will release in August, followed later by the 1TB and 500GB models.
Those that already own an Xbox One will see little to any benefit of purchasing the system. The somewhat trivial uptick of having 4k support is lost when you have to factor in also needing a 4k capable television or monitor. Other than that, there is little or no advantage to the newer console. The smaller form factor and internal power supply would be nice but they surely don’t justify the cost. Perhaps those few that possess the burning desire to have the newest thing will buy it but then they will likely trade in their old system which results in a net zero gain for Microsoft’s installation base. The likelihood that trade-ins will flood the market with cheap Xbox Ones and help the marketshare grow is low at best.
Then add in the Scorpio factor. At the same conference as the official reveal of the Xbox One S, Microsoft confirms the development of the next Xbox console codename Project Scorpio. Given the release timeframe of Holiday 2017, this is may make those with the current Xbox One even less likely to invest in the Xbox One S. Consider those that do purchase the Xbox One S and the chances are low that they are going to reinvest in Scorpio only twelve to sixteen months later. This puts Xbox One S owners in the same situation that Xbox One owners are facing with the Xbox One S. Even if one ignores those factors, it is unclear as to what the advantages of Project Scorpio are going to be since Microsoft has been unclear with their messaging about the new hardware.
The Xbox One S may become its own victim. The timing of the release puts it in an awkward position of fighting both its predecessor and successor. Whereas Microsoft found success with the Xbox 360 S release, it is positioned to falter with its latest attempt. The Xbox 360 S didn’t offer any upgrades over the existing Xbox 360 other than a shiny new case. This is in contrast to the position of the Xbox One S being billed as an incremental improvement of the Xbox One. Being less than three years into a console’s life seems early to be offering an upgrade. Offering two upgraded consoles within a year of each other seems even more odd.
Ultimately, time will tell if the Xbox One S is a success. There is a market of people that don’t own an Xbox One but it is hard to tell if what the Xbox One S offers is enough to get them to buy in.