Now Microsoft's entire lineup has been brought down in price

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) announced on Friday that the SKU of the Xbox One that comes with a Kinect 2 sensor will receive a $50 USD discount, cutting the price to $449 USD.  The discount took hold yesterday and will run through Feb. 21.  The deal will be honored by "most national retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Toys R Us and Walmart, as well as Microsoft Stores."

The SKU without a Kinect sensor -- originally priced at $399 USD -- was discounted to $349 USD in mid-January, marking a return of the price point from the holidays.  Microsoft is insisting that the deal is "limited", but based on consumer reactions and sales rates when it bumped the price back briefly in January, it's going to have a tough time convincing customers to pay $399 USD for the Kinect-less Xbox One, after they were able to get it for $349 USD for so long.

The new deal has sort of flown under the radar, but is kind of a big deal, because it gives some deals love to a largely neglected SKU that is believed to have performed relatively poorly in overall sales.
Xbox One w/ Kinect 2
Over the 2014 holiday season, various game bundles focused on the Kinect-free SKU.  The good thing is that this allowed Microsoft to target lower prices.  But it also compromised the originaly design vision of the console, which was built heavily around motion-controlled gameplay and a voice command interface, which were enabled by the second generation Kinect's 1080p camera, depth sensors, and stereo microphone array.

With the Kinect 2 finally getting some discount loving of its own, we should see customers expriencing Microsoft's full vision for the first time.  That should be a good thing for perception of the console.

The bad news is that Microsoft may look to pull this deal for good on Feb. 21, to avoid the expectation game it fell into with the Kinect-free SKU after the prolonged holiday discount.  The other bad news is that this cut only affects the plain-Jane SKU with no games (see this, Inc. (AMZN) listing, for example), not the Forza 5 or Assassin's Creed: Unity bundles w/ Kinect.

The Kinect Sensor retails as a standalone bundle for $150 USD, so this does represent a true discount, even at current rates for the sensor-free package.  The only word of warning is that the Kinect sensor does take up some computing resources, leading to a roughly a 10 percent bump down in graphics performance (framerates, detail in frame-locked apps, etc.), according to some sources.

Sources: Xbox Wire, Amazon [product page]

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