In the first piece, in the Post's Business section, the reporters write a ludicrous appraisal of the Xbox 360's prospects as a multi-media hub. No doubt some people will use the new gaming system as a media extender, but surely the vast, vast majority of buyers will use the Xbox . . . to play games.
In fact, the Post reporters admit as much in their story's sixth graph:
Microsoft's vision has skeptics. Paul Saffo, director of Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think tank, said the Xbox 360's non-gaming features "make nice ad copy" but doubts that owners will use all the extras. It remains, he said, a video game machine.
No doubt that Saffo is right. Here's what bothers me: Do the editors at the Post feel as though they need to puff the Xbox up into something it isn't to justify the D-1 story? They shouldn't. Gaming is a big enough business that the story of the new Xbox launch should be newsworthy in its right, without the need to buy into futurist fantasies.
The other story, on the front page of the Style section is even more breathless. It's a profile of the Xbox "box" designer, Jonathan Hayes. And it begins with this off-the-shelf hyperbole:
There's something a little off here: The designer of the Microsoft Xbox 360 -- the video-game console landing in a place of honor right next to the television in millions of living rooms starting today -- doesn't play video games.
Except that Microsoft's goal is to sell only 3 million units in the next 90 days. The Xbox 360 isn't going into "millions" of homes today. Or tomorrow. Or over the weekend.
Which leads us to the third bit of puffery in the Post: In the Business section story we have a passage included which is meant to push readers over to the Hayes profile in the Style section. Here's the line:
To keep the device from being banished to the basement or the kids' room, Allard's team has spent almost as much time worrying over the appearance of the new Xbox as about the technology inside the console.
I don't mean to be nit-picky--none of this is important in the grand scheme of things--but this just can't be true. Do you think Microsoft spent "almost as much time" worrying about the cosmetics of their system as they did the technology inside? Really? If they did, it means that Sony has already won the console war and Bill Gates should have everyone on Team Xbox garroted in their sleep.