Just recently we've seen retailers selling consoles before they are announced, but how about the idea of a platform holder shipping one directly to a customer ahead of its reveal?
It sounds too incredulous to be real, but apparently that's exactly what happened in the run-up to the reveal of the Xbox One.
Business Insider reports that in March 2013, Miami resident Jia Li ordered a new laptop from Microsoft. That wasn't what he received, however. "The box had a lot of security tape over it," he said. I opened it, and it's something I've never seen before."
Inside was an Xbox One covered in zebra stripes (a tactic used to make prototypes harder to photograph).
Back in March 2013, the name ‘Project Durango' had been doing the rounds for over a year. A dev kit had even been spotted in the wild. Hell, just that month MCV had reported that Microsoft was planning to drop the disc drive from the machine – reports later confirmed to be in considerationat the time.
None of which diminishes that amazing notion that Microsoft actually shipped a machine to a customer two months ahead of its official confirmation and eight months ahead of its release.
The site adds that Microsoft's strategy at the time was to hide the consoles in plain site. Sony had already announced the PS4 and early rumours had suggested that Xbox One would be its technical inferior. So rather than try and bury the devices away in the maximum security wings of its Redmond HQ where potential snoopers would rightfully look to think, the consoles were instead stored in a relatively open area of Microsoft's shipping depot.
All of which led to one being shipped out to a guy who had ordered a $500 laptop.
Li eventually contacted Microsoft to inform them of their mistake, and a rep soon turned up to collect the machine – and hand over both the laptop that he ordered and a free Xbox 360.