The internet has a voice and Microsoft isn't the only one that needs to listen

Xbox One
Ding dong, the DRM is dead...

What do you think they're saying round at Xbox One HQ today? Do you think they're weeping and wailing, rending their garments and slapping their backs with sticks as they chant, "We got it wrong! We got it wrong!"?

Or do you think they're making frowny faces, accusing everyone on the internet of being a right arse and making plans to try and bring all the DRM back when everyone's forgotten about it?

My money's on the latter.

Don't get me wrong: it's great that Microsoft has backtracked on the Xbox One DRM - I'm sure I'm one of very many people who would barely buy games if it weren't for the pre-owned market. But I don't think Microsoft is doing it because it thinks its ideas are rubbish. I don't even think it's because its customers are upset.

I think it's doing it because the internet discussions about the ins and outs of the Xbox's DRM have killed pre-order sales. It looks like a panic move, not a well thought out strategic shift.

Microsoft isn't the only offender, although it is a repeat one: I've seen some of my relatives driven to fury by Windows 8's "hey, let's put a touch interface on non-touch devices" tomfoolery. That U-turn has already been announced in the form of Windows 8.1, and again it's because of crap sales.

Other tech firms shouldn't be smug, though. Whisper "Maps" in Tim Cook's ear and watch his composure flicker. Give Mark Zuckerberg a call and ask him how Facebook Home's working out for him.

The problem is that tech firms live in SuperSexyFutureLand and, sadly, the rest of us don't.

"The Emperor's naked!"

You can see the problem with SuperSexyFutureLand in two quotes, both about the Xbox:

Microsoft creative director Adam Orth didn't "get the drama around having an 'always on' console... #dealwithit" and responded to comments noting that some people lived in rural areas with "Why on earth would I live there?"

More recently Don Mattrick said that, "Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some sort of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360."

Irrespective of Mattrick's intentions, the two quotes together suggest a rather dismissive attitude towards prospective customers: You mean you don't have, like, an awesome job in a totally happening urban area? No more Halos for you, losers! Go and have sex with a potato, or whatever it is you guys do! I bet your mother is your sister!

The problem, I think, is that in SuperSexyFutureLand people are so excited about what a product can do, they ignore the negatives because the negatives don't affect them.

Facebook Home making it easier to live in Facebook all the time? Woo-hoo! Never mind that it also makes Android phones less usable. Apple Maps getting Google off the iPhone? Yee-haw! Never mind if it wipes entire towns off the face of the Earth. Xbox One enabling disc-free sharing? Oh yeah! Only losers buy second-hand discs anyway!

This is an old, old story given a new lease of life: it's the Emperor's New Clothes with the little boy replaced by the entire internet. And that's worrying, because if a product such as the Xbox One, or Apple Maps or Facebook Home can get so far without anybody saying "hang on a minute, isn't this going to...?", or if people are saying that and being shouted down or ignored, then it suggests that the companies concerned have a bad case of hubris.

They might want to look at that, because the biggest threat to successful tech firms isn't competition. It's complacency.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.