Are Laptop Stickers Unprofessional?

A few years ago, I started putting stickers on the backside of my laptop.

When I worked at Deltek’s GovWin, we were trying to find a way to get our members to talk to each other and network. GovWin is a networking and business tool that was originally conceived as a “dating network” to get large government contractors to partner with smaller contractors to do business. Yet, government contracting expos tend to be more about who you know and not really a place to brand yourself but a way to sell your company, its past performance and its capabilities. In some ways, it’s not unlike a healthcare fair at a local school. Dull but necessary.

The goal was to get more people to sign up for the free service and start networking at these expos. And a healthcare fair-like scenario with a lot of speeches or presentations wasn’t conducive for our goals. I snuck into a session and noticed that all the participants were on their laptops on big round tables. For the next expo, we created a simple sticker that identified the laptop’s owner as a GovWin member. If I could get a sticker on the back of a laptop for several 45-60 minute sessions, everyone on the table would notice that they weren’t a cool kid without that sticker. For current members, we’d simply verify their status on the network and give them a sticker. For those who weren’t, they’d signup in the booth and get a sticker. It was a way to tell people that they were ready to do business.

From all reports, we ran out of stickers.

To Stick or Not to Stick?

Not too long ago, I noticed more stickers on other laptops and I named the practice “laptags” as way to merge those who continue to rely on their laptops and their stickers as real-world social media-like hashtags.

There’s no best practices for how, where or how to professionally “laptag” your laptop but I’ve seen some great use of custom stickers informing people of the user’s Twitter handle, a Windows sticker on the back of a Mac (they were dual booting), a Slack logo and several tags used for cybersecurity. Laptagging might be viewed like NASCAR logos for the professional world. There will be those who love them and those who will hate them.

Yet, there are several people that I have spoken to who feel that, like the current critical view that LinkedIn is becoming too much like Facebook with more personal messages than professional ones. Most of the execs that I have met, often have sticker-less laptop (often their work rigs) and their personal devices are, for the most part, sticker-less as well.

I’ll admit that I have yet to come across an exec who said anything negative about the practice. But it is something to think about as a marketing person. When people align with a brand or product, a laptag can be a very effective marketing technique for the company’s brand as well as an amazing networking tool.

Currently my laptop has five stickers: one jokes about the overuse of hashtags, one promotes GamesForChange, one’s a funny gamer joke, one is a cool sticker for Reds (very nice ball bearings for my roller skates) and an Ethiopian flag (my daughter’s birth country). The flag one has stopped complete strangers to chat for a few minutes, scored me a free cookie once and improved my service at a local restaurant where I frequently used my laptop. Given that I worked in DC, where the highest population of Ethiopians reside outside of Ethiopia, it’s not a surprise.

The point is that I am going to experiment as I search for a new job. Can a few laptop stickers help get me land a new role? We’ll just have to see. For now, laptag if you want. Think of them like tattoos that you can remove without lasers.

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That Entrepreneurial Itch

Every entrepreneur I’ve spoken with has told me the same thing, “Your first company is based on that idea you just can’t shake.”

Yeah, I got one of those. A few years ago after my first layoff, I looked down at my iPhone and came up with an idea for a game that relied on an alternative input for character creation with a heavy social component. I sketched it out, named it, wrote notes for how the company would work, how it would make money and how to scale it.

We’ll call it Project A.

After spending a few months stewing on the idea, I was invited out to coffee with the father of one my son’s friends. He wanted to hear about my job hunt and we talked about where I might look. As with many conversations, I offer a great deal of ideas or alternative perspectives. He threw a few ideas at me to see what I thought. Turned out that he was a serial entrepreneur and moved into his next question, “What would you create if you had the money?”

So I gave him my elevator pitch on Project A. If I could pull together a team of programmers and others to work on it, he thought that he could get an investment group to help fund it as a beta project. He thought it had great potential to make a lot of money. He moved into a new range of questions: How much would I need to live, how long would it take to create, did I have connections that could do some of the algorithms that would be required, did I have a lawyer looking into getting a patent?

Yet, with a dwindling bank account, no job and a family, my priority turned to keeping a house, putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. Looking for the team would take too much time and finding the ones with the skills to create the technology would be difficult. Project A sits in a notebook.

Unlike most people, I had some experience. At a former job, I had pitched a completely different and unrelated product. We’ll call it Project L. When I pitched, I had the concept, awesome product name, built out how it would make money, how the marketing would work and where it would grow. It was my first pitch and I expected to fail miserably.

Halfway through that pitch, despite all my reservations, I got the green light. Research scientists started working on the early math. I was told to get ready to move out of my division as soon as Project L moved ahead. Then, one unexpected day, the CEO ousted all the development teams before the board ousted the CEO. The work stopped. Then a few months later, the company cut a lot of people and I was one of them. Project L was now trapped within the company forever (based on the advice of a law-minded friend who used to work for the company).

I’ve only pitched Project A to about 10 people and only one thought I was totally insane. What was once a simple idea for an iPhone game has become two related companies in my head. Hopefully my next pitch will be when I can finally give into that itch.

We Need Smart Elevators

elevatorWhen you begin to understand the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT), you view the world a little differently. You find applications that could be drastically improved. One area that I’m shocked that hasn’t caught up yet is the elevator.

If you live or work in building, the process in getting to your floor hasn’t changed much since the introduction of the elevator. While the technology around creating safer elevators has drastically improved.

Thankfully I’m not the only one thinking about it. Time featured a story in Oct. 2015 called “A Big Change Is Coming to Elevators, And It Matters More Than You Think,” which reads like a promotion for ThyssenKrupp’s MAX technology that links elevators to Microsoft’s Azure cloud and toots about efficiency for building operators.

Honestly, it sounds needlessly complex. Today, I walk into a lobby on the ground floor in a building that only has floors above. Replacing that button with a single low-fidelity camera could decrease that time by adding a simple command, “when person is within 10 feet and facing forward, make one elevator come to the ground floor.”

An even smarter application might be able to recognize a visually impaired person with a white cane, a person with crutches, a walker or a wheelchair and enhance that rider’s experience by allowing for a few extra seconds to exit the elevator.

As a former Bostonian, I grew up with the ideas of “four corners,” where the first four people to enter an elevator find a respective corner and “own it.” Yet, elevator buttons are in one of those corners. A smart elevator might simply ask passengers, “Floor, please?” With passengers entering from other floors, it would simply ask again. A panel might show which floors have already been selected. Sounds like Star Trek right? It is. And Star Trek first aired in 1964. This smart elevator isn’t a new concept.

Smart Elevators might also want to employ well-used and off-the-shelf camera technology to serve a variety of needs. For instance, facial recognition software might unlock floors that require certain approval instead of the leaning through an elevator crowd to swipe an access code. Such an application could also help those facing medical emergencies since there are far too many conditions where a person is unable to hit the Help or Alert button. A Smart Elevator might have an application where it sees a person on the floor of the elevator, connects that person with a 911 service as well as property staff to not only get help but bring that person to a floor where they could receive more immediate attention. With situations such as heart attacks, seconds are crucial and smarter elevators really could save lives.

Smart elevators could also be used for safety as well. During fire drills, when people are asked to take the stairs, elevators could be programmed to quickly return to their base floor for safety. And while it would take some approval, a smart elevator might remember floors where passengers with mobility issues are located and remain open for those people to get them to safety if they can’t use the stairs.

Such features should not require new elevators since the cost would far too prohibited. Upgrading existing elevators would still incur some expense but the benefits would help increase efficiency, safety and convenience.

Finally, smart elevators could easily end “elevator music” with something as simple as nature sounds, daily building activity updates, breaking news or a variety of different versions of radio-friendly music.

photo credit: at the LACMA via photopin (license)

The Death of the Smartphone

Recently my 12-year-old son asked, “Why do we call this a phone?”smartphone

He, looking down at his iPhone 5S, had a point. More often then not he’s not using it to call anyone. He plays games, texts, surfs the web and plays music. Not typical functions of a standard telephony device but a modern, very nimble communications device that merges together many functions in a small and powerful device.

Which got me to thinking, if our smartphones aren’t really phones any longer, what should we really call them? And from a marketing perspective, how would you reclassify billions of devices with a completely new term based on the functions we use “smartphones” for every day?

Oddly, as an old school tech guy, my first “smartphone”-like devices were Personal Digital Assistants, devices that replaced notepads, to do lists and some gaming functions. PDAs replaced paper.

Yet, the iPhone was the first successful mainstream volley into something different and a stroke of marketing genius. Combine the popular iPod music player with a multipurpose communication device tied to a massive distribution backbone and see what happens. It worked amazingly well. The smartphone replaced more than paper or PDAs, it replaced many different devices and tools.

We use our smartphones less and less for voice communications as VOIP services take over. So much so that even cell phone companies are having difficulty in keeping up with product demand for GBs per month and how to charge for text messages (which should be free).

Rebranding them isn’t easy. It needs to be short, Tweetable, SMS-able and simple. My suggestion would use a term we use every day and grow it. It needs to be all encompassing and roll up all the many things that we do on our devices. At the end of the day, we no longer just use our smartphones to talk, we use them to communicate in a variety of ways.

My suggestion is simple. We should call our smartphones a better,, more appropriate name. After a few weeks of marketing ideas and a list of long possibilities, my suggestion would be to rebrand a “smartphone” as a “Comm.”

A Comm is one less letter than phone and six less than smartphone (alas, tweetable). And given that most of the commercial websites that we focus on every day use .com, a variation wouldn’t be hard to market. Yet, Comms aren’t just for commerce, they would stand for Community, a way to use apps and networks to create communities of individuals that create new ways to interact and communicate. And it can be Common, a way to think less about walled-in networks and build smarter, more adaptable communities through a list of common APIs, platforms and applications.

Our smartphones really aren’t phones anymore, they’re Comms, devices that allow people to communicate in traditional, novel and new ways. And while paper, emails and text messages continue, Comms remove the analog behaviors of the past and finally embrace a fully digital today. Replaced by hard drives, cloud, interconnectivity and evolving ways to communicate.

Forget Ultrathin, I Want a 48 Hour Laptop

ultrathinConsumer laptop technology is the fine art of balancing the needs of a market with the trends they perceive as desirable. Companies put a massive amount of money into researching those trends in the hopes of finding the Holy Grail feature that will get a consumer to buy their laptop.

I’m a consumer who prefers laptops with more CPU and GPU power along with the longest amount of battery life. Yet, while companies have made great strides in creating laptops that have computing power, battery life is still a major limiting factor. That’s where the balancing happens. Want more power? Then the GPU and CPU will be mobile chips. As those mobile chips push the laws of physics with their computing power to energy sipping ratios, they’re great for basic functions and apps but not for professional level programs and intensive video games.

And I applaud Razer’s upcoming Razer Blade ultra laptop that will offer the Razer Core accessory that delivers that option when gamers return home through the power of Thunderbolt. Yet, it can’t deliver everything while on the road.

The newer MacBooks seem to show that Apple is listening to consumers. Apple shrank the logic board in its laptops and filled the remaining space with custom batteries that will let it run for up to 9 hours. While I haven’t tested one yet, that’s impressive. It shows a clear engineering decision to deliver more energy in a smaller package.

Yet, why not have a different option? While laptops get thinner and thinner, why not give people an option to order an ultrathin laptop with a 24 or 48-hour battery? Same specs but no longer ultrathin, a thin laptop that would give those who go on long flights without power cords or those who roam to places without power a different option. Or having such a modular design would allow those who want an ultrathin most of the time the option to swap out the battery base with a longer lasting one when needed.

Power users would likely pay a premium for such an option but for the throngs of people fighting over the only power socket in an airport terminal, why not give power users thin laptops with massive amounts of battery life and the CPU speed they need?

So while I  watched The Verge’s CES 2016 coverage on the latest in ultrathin laptops, I’m not looking for something thinner, I’m looking for something that’s less about a cord and more about the freedom from them. Time to get laptop makers to notice that need.

Hoverboard 2.0 From Amazon, Tesla or Razer?

hoverboardAs CES 2016 opens its doors this week, this is a show typically dominated by appliances and mostly TVs. But one of the biggest commercial successes of 2015 (and the 2015 holiday season) was the unbranded hoverboard. Yes, those Segway-like boards that are best known for catching fire and helping toss a few potential Darwin Awards finalists.

When Amazon decided to pull the plug on hoverboard sales for its vendors, it created a vacuum where consumers ignored the warnings and bought the hoverboards elsewhere, paying hundreds of dollars for a trendy device that is admittedly far cheaper than a real Segway but with a record of danger. In fact, Amazon asked people to toss or recycle boards out of safety concerns.

One of the big expectations in 2016 is that a “hoverboard leader” will finally emerge with safer battery technology and remove the fire danger of its batteries. Given Amazon’s push to create itself as a consumer electronics maker and considering the PR backlash from removing hoverboard sales from, it seems that Amazon could make an interesting PR pivot from banning sales to creating a new market for itself by working with its Chinese manufacturing partners to engineer safer hoverboards. Of course, given that the company’s consumer devices have incendiary names like Fire and Kindle, it would need to come up with a different naming scheme.

Another potential hoverboard 2.0 leader might come from Tesla Motors. The Tesla is a tech-minded person’s car and the company has engineering teams that already specialize in getting the most out of batteries and designing consumer experiences around its vehicles. Plus, Tesla’s shopping mall showrooms could offer an elite “Tesla Board” at those locations to increase revenue and interest, it’s a great way to build a safer board and massive brand awareness. Who wouldn’t want a “Tesla Board” vs. a brand-less board?

Another outlier is Razer. It’s a high tech brand that was featured in April 2015’s Fortune as “This gaming company is worth $1 billion, and you’ve probably never heard of it“. While the company is still a peripheral maker for gaming consoles, PCs and the growing list of wearables, Razer could easily apply its dark black, male-centric brand to a Razer Board. Given the company’s deep roots in gaming culture tournaments and gaming culture’s love of hoverboards, Razer has the relationships and engineering to potentially lead or innovate hoverboards into the 2.0 phase.

Of course, this is all speculation. Given the dangers and the legalities of creating a safer hoverboard 2.0, many big tech companies might simply wait for the fires to die down before they decide to enter the hoverboard market. While it might be too soon for hoverboard 2.0 to emerge at CES 2016, it is going to be a topic that’s bound to be discussed.

Nintendo’s Unlikely Savior — Amazon

Nintendo is not dead, despite all reports. Yet, after three consecutive years of loss, it does appear that Nintendo’s leadership is finally willing to admit that all is not well in the house of Mario.

nin-ama2Wii U is not selling and while the DS line of handheld gaming devices continues to sell, Nintendo’s reliance on branded hardware, limited first party releases and a denial of market trends may be the three things that end its reign. When tech companies have troubles, tech journalists suggest that the biggest competition will gobble them up whole through acquisition. I have a completely different idea. One that might help it return to profitability in two years or less. Yet, it has to admit several problems before it can do it.

The Software Problem: Nintendo is a for-profit company that needs to maintain its IP, earn revenue from that IP and while it might make more money by creating more titles based on that IP, it doesn’t. My suggestion would be to create a program where Nintendo approached game studios with a proposition. Create a stellar game on any IP in the Nintendo library. Nintendo would still need to approve of the IP use but giving a license to any game developer to create the next Mario, Donkey Kong or Wario game would be welcome.

On the same idea, developing a program where Nintendo allowed up and coming (or indie) game makers to use its IP would help add new titles to the small online libraries it has. Nintendo would still maintain the distribution but these solutions would do something that Nintendo fans would embrace, a wealth of choice.

The Single Purpose Problem: The Wii can’t play DVDs. The Wii U can’t either. You can’t use the DS to Skype. Sure, you can use Netflix (finally) but adoption of Netflix on those devices can’t be high.  The Wii U is a powerful device that simply does one thing – it plays a limited amount of games.  Players invest in products to use in their everyday lives that have more than one purpose. The phone in your pocket plays games, plays music, plays videos, monitor stocks, watch sports scores… Nintendo needs to finally embrace its Japanese culture. A culture that is addicted to technology because its culture has helped innovate technology worldwide. Now it needs to embrace what its fans want and deliver a device that does more than just play games.

The Hardware Problem: Developing hardware is not a cheap activity and while it helps Nintendo maintain its exclusivity, it hurts distribution. While I am a big proponent of broad releases (like Sega’s post-Dreamcast strategy), Nintendo would never go for it. Yet, it would need an innovative, global partner who had the means to stay ahead of the industry, had an already established product line to use as a platform and wasn’t Sony or Samsung. While the Wii U has problems, I do think that the Wii U’s GamePad is where Nintendo’s future will head. It’s a smart way to let the less profitable Wii line lessen, move DS gamers to a new platform on a bigger screen and still maintain its exclusivity. Yet, with extremely limited power supply, the GamePad isn’t able to keep itself going very long.

The Solution: Nintendo needs a global partner who can take over its hardware development, improve its current hardware, offer security to limit piracy, products that it wants to sell, no gaming competition and access to a high-powered cloud infrastructure and distribution engine. The answer seems obvious….

Amazon. With its Kindle HD line of tablets, the company has a solid platform of tablet devices, a third generation all-digital distribution engine, global marketing and, I believe, would love to have exclusive rights to having Nintendo games on its devices. Amazon has recently been dabbling in the gaming universe but a super-exclusive deal with Nintendo would make Amazon a global player overnight and would allow Nintendo to be creative powerhouse it has always been. And, I think that with Amazon’s drive, it could develop that platform in less than two years.

That device, which might be based on parts of the Wii U GamePad design, would get games on the day they released, offer new ways for gamers to communicate, more access to potential add-ons, create an engine for MMO-like titles for games like Pokemon and might help developers come back to Nintendo.

Bash if you must but I think that Nintendo isn’t dead. And I think that a deal with Amazon gives Nintendo an unprecedented opportunity to push itself to the forefront of gaming on tablets.

Mr. Iwata, it’s time to give Amazon’s Jeff Bezos a call.

Resurrecting Your Dead Site With Content Marketing

Business owners typically feel pretty good about their sites. They’ve spent the money to develop their site, see that it’s working, view a list of pictures of the executive staff, display current products and services and a way to contact you “for more information.” And without any complaint, those business owners assume that all is well.

I call these graveyard sites because, despite any money used to create them, they serve as a way to tell customers when your business died.  Name, catchy phrase, date born, date died and a mound. Take a moment to look at your site.

When did you last update your site? Are there old products still listed? Have you made announcements that aren’t displayed? Did you move? And, my favorite, is the date on your copyright this year? I term active sites as “gardens” that show that your business is alive, well and ready to work. Which one is your site?

The bad news for graveyard sites is found in the numbers. These sites usually offer a trickle of customers who seek general information about the company, its products, sales and support. Average sites generally have 5-14 pages. Site metrics show a steady monthly number with a few seasonal or holiday dips but generally average views.

So say a small business had a site with 14 pages (a rough average) created and designed for $5,000. Over the course of a year, there were 5,000 visitors who viewed 1 page. Your acquisition cost for the reader would be $1. Sounds ok, right?

This is where content strategy can change things. Say over the course of that year, you launched a blog with four pieces that helped better position your company as an expert. Smaller companies might have quality writers amongst their ranks but hiring an outside content expert is often a better investment because they can investigate what you do, find where you’re not marketing well and offer strategies for better web searches. The better the expert, the higher potential for creating blog posts that will outperform all the other content on the site. Say this costs $1,000.

Your site now has 18 pages with only four blog pieces live. This is where business owners begin to see the value of content.  Reviewing web site performance at the end of the year will reveal several things. First, those four pieces will likely be the most viewed stories on your site. Second, your total pageviews will increase. Third, your pages viewed per session rises.

Now say we go with a fairly conservative 7,500 pageviews per year success. Pages per session increases to two pages and the path that happens is often predictable, old customers still use the site for information (for the most part) but new customers use the blog as a way to enter your site and then click on your contact information. These new readers found you because they were searching for a solution, one that you might know how to fix. With the right information, that reader might buy your product or service. Readers who read more than one page are more likely to contact or remember your company when they need it. So at 7,500 pageviews, your cost per reader goes down to $0.80.  A lower cost for your website cost and you increased your company’s marketability for 20 cents less per reader.

This is simple overview about what content marketing can do for your site that doesn’t take into account the potential for people linking to your posts, commenting on them, sharing those links to broadcast your expertise. With those additions, cost per viewer decreases, knowledge about your expertise is raised and your business will improve.

Why Sony Should Make the PS4’s DualShock 4 Compatible with PS3

ps3-ds4In the upcoming PS4 vs. Xbox One console war, many gamers haven’t decided which console they will buy.  And the group of gamers that decided on one console have shifted a few times as more information about each platform comes to light (based on conversations that I’ve had with industry friends). Powered by powerful yet similar platforms, their final decision will come down to the games, not the hardware.

Yet there’s a hidden opportunity to sell hardware here. Making the PlayStation 4’s new DualShock 4 controllers compatible with PlayStation 3. Both use Bluetooth and reviewers have already shown that the DualShock 4 controller does work with PS3 but not wirelessly. In retrospect, adding Bluetooth functionality to the PS3 was a brilliant idea, one that Sony can capitalize on.

Sony’s decision to enable a DualShock 4 on a PS3 would be a software and administrative debate. A basic set of drivers, delivered to PS3 owners before the PS4 launch would allow gamers to start getting used to the new controller. It helps PS3 owners refresh their existing machine. Those drivers might not make features like the Share, Touchpad, Lightbar or headset jack work (although the last would be greatly appreciated) but new is always a desire, especially if a gamer can’t afford the new PS4 yet.

Then my marketing side asks, “Why would Sony do this?”

Sony has always supported its older platforms as the newer platforms arrive. Plus, it would also allow Sony to increase sales of the newer controller SKUs as the older controllers become less desirable.

Next, it’s about the long tail. If I buy a DualShock 4 controller today, I’m more likely to buy a PlayStation 4 tomorrow as my hands get accustomed to the new design and my technophile brain asks, “I wonder what these non-functional buttons do.” Plus, I (as a cheap gamer) want to get more for my $59.99 DualShock 4 investment.
The Plan

On PlayStation 4’s launch day, Sony could cause a riot by dropping the price of DualShock 3 controllers by $10 to $49.99 and announce that the DualShock 4 is compatible with PS3. This will get PS3 fans to go to retail and get a new controller on launch day (hint, hint: when Sony would have the most marketing behind the PS4). A percentile of controller purchasers would also buy a new PS4 in the first few weeks anyways but for those on the fence, this would be a good long tail strategy for giving gamers a taste of PS4 via their PS3 and seeding a future console purchase near the holidays.

How Microsoft Could Win E3 Without Halo

xboxoneThe first time I reported on Halo, I sat in a room at GameSpot, watched the Bungie team set up for a demo, one that we were told would be great. As fans of the Marathon and Myth series, we anxiously piled into a room to see what Bungie had planned.

We were shown an early scene that looked like a high-resolution photograph. What Bungie’s Doug Zartman did next was one of the funniest moments I had seen in gaming; Doug moved the mouse and the ships started moving. The room, a tough room of gaming pros with short attention spans and a long history of being “not-so-wowed” by such demos, stopped talking. The game? Halo.

That was August 6, 1999 (my proof) and that demo was on a Mac. That same demo, not long after, was the darling of the Apple fanbase and a way around Apple’s confusing game strategy (cough… Pippen and GameSprockets). And then the impossible happened. Microsoft bought Bungie. Might the impossible be just the thing that gets gamers to the Xbox One and not the PlayStation 4?

The Point

Microsoft’s recent showing of the Xbox One failed to connect with gamers. I suspected, and had already written, that the intent of the event was to connect with dads (read Xbox One: The All-In-One Dad Box), a group with the disposable capital, a need for fast-switching media features, integrated business features like Skype, access to a new Madden and a new kid-friendly Kinect. CNET’s Dan Ackerman agreed.

Gamers, in a word, were pissed. Where’s Halo 5? And yet, it gave a hint that was missed by many, Microsoft is investing $1 billion dollars in 15 new games, several of those being new IP. While some of that money will go to the internal studios, it is also an investment in studios that might create the next Halo. This, I suspect is just a part of what Microsoft might be planning for its next media event at E3 2013.

Yet, Microsoft needs to make the right investment, pen the right deals and ensure that it curates Xbox One-only games. Games that will get gamers to leap to Xbox One on day one, despite price. Two names, though controversial, stand out.  And while I haven’t been part of the global gaming industry for a while, either option would win.

The Options

Option 1: Epic. Given the recent departure of Cliff Bleszinski, Epic is in transition. Epic’s still a formidable force with the Xbox-exclusive Gears of War series and the broadly used Unreal game engine. Purchasing Epic would give Microsoft the Gears of War IP, one that it might merge into the media empire that it has been building for Halo under 343 Industries.

Making the Unreal engine Microsoft exclusive would ease current Unreal engine game makers to the new console and would give Microsoft massive strategic leverage in its licensing deals as well. It would take years for developers to create competition for Unreal, years that would make Xbox One huge.

Option 2: Valve. Nothing screams more hardcore than Valve, a company that owns its own IP, IP that would sell consoles. While the company is branching out in a new direction with its upcoming hardware platform (although more reserved now), gamers have been extremely vocal in their need for a new iteration in the Half-Life series. With Microsoft ownership, Valve (founded by former Microsoft employee Gabe Newell) might be asked to create Half-Life 3, a new Left 4 Dead Counter-Strike, and Portal 3 (and hopefully Dota). And Valve’s gaming services and distribution engine, Steam, would bring loads of core gamers to Microsoft’s console in droves, a clear way to differentiate cores from casuals.

And after Newell’s announcement that he was working with J. J. Abrams on transforming Portal or Half-Life onto the silver screen, this might also make it interesting for Microsoft’s 343 Industries’ growing media power.

I’ll admit that either option is wildly speculative. Yet, Microsoft has pulled such a move before. Every company has a price. I first played Halo on a Mac, what console did you play it on?

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