Robbie Bach helped to launch the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 during his 22 years at Microsoft. He left the company in 2010 but now he's talking about his past work at the company, including an interesting observatiion that Microsoft should have launched a gaming-themed "Xphone" a few years before Apple launched the iPhone.
Bach was interviewed by Polygon in part to promote his upcoming book Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal, which will be released in September. In the interview, Bach talks about how some people at Microsoft tried to push for the release of an "Xboy" portable game console, but that Bach and his management team always shot those ideas down:
""We just looked at this as a management team and said, 'If we try to do this we'll hurt Xbox a lot. Xbox is the strategic thing that must get done. It must get done right.' It was my first really hardcore lesson in saying less is more. Forcing the team to focus and say, 'We've got to get this right first.'"
However, speaking with some hindsight, Bach believes that Microsoft would have done better with a gaming-themed smartphone instead of a traditional handheld game console:
"The irony is, the thing we missed about that was it should have been a phone. What we should have done was the Xphone, not the Xboy. I don't think it would have been an obvious thought at the time. This was still pretty early. This is three years before iPhone. But if we'd been prescient enough to start looking at phone technology, looking at touch screens — if we managed to think that all through, we might have said, 'Oh gosh, we should do an Xphone.' That could have been ... who knows? Hindsight is 20/20."