Why would retailers sell a digital-only console without a significant markup?
Is the digital-only Xbox One supposed to be exclusively available in Microsoft stores?
That's why I gave it up to 199$. I'm pretty sure by now the most expensive thing in the XBOS is the BD4K disc drive. Remove that and you can have a console with a very low pricetag... and some margin to give retailers to convince then stocking the unit. I calculate the production price of a discless XBO between $120 and $160 (20-25$ for casing, same for mainboard, around $30 for the APU and 20$ for the memory, plus 10-20$ assembly and shipping) depending on controllers, HDD (500GB for about 20$) and pack-in games, so even at $149.99 retailers could get some money out of it.
Plus, since Microsoft will make money with the games and especially gamepass with this unit, there's no reason for them not to subvention the unit to get them to retailers.
If the goal from the get-go is to subsidize such an SKU, then why go through the trouble when the existing Slim SKU could be subsidized all the same while being able to be produced in much larger numbers?
A disc drive costs what, ~$25 at most? Also, putting in a 500 GB HDD isn't thought through either, because that's filled up fast and the SKU would not be able to read discs to install games again, so repeated large downloads in a datacap country would be the norm for anyone who plays more than 5-10 games.
You have to remember that the PSP Go got rid of its UMD drive and in turn launched $50 more expensive than the regular PSP SKU. When retailers aren't going to see any money from a consoler buyer again, they want a hefty margin on this one-time sale. Realistically, I don't see how Microsoft could offer a discless Xbox One at all major retailers that is cheaper than a Slim.