Tagging. Will read the whole thing later.
I'd agree that this analogy of mine is weakest with Sony, though they're definitely hardware first. They have been trying to fix the software side of things, but it feels like it isn't the main focus, to me. No one questions their hardware, their services are solid, but even you admit that they had a long way to improve over the course of this generation.
Yeah I would argue MS is Software last. MS invests in the same caliber of HW as Sony, or better.
XB1= PS4, XB1X>PS4 Pro
Sony on the other hand I would argue is most balanced in their approach. They always want the top HW or with unique aspects (like CD, DVD, Blu Ray). They put out quite a bit SW and invest heavily into new AAA ips. They invest in services like in the PS3 era, they offered PSN for free when their competitor was making big bucks.
My argument with Microsoft isn't that they don't invest in hardware, indeed, their hardware is usually better than Sony's, but rather that their hardware isn't the focus of their brand. Microsoft definitely doesn't invest as much in developing IP, but they do go out of their way to secure software content. It's why they buy temporary exclusivity all the time. I do think they're weak on software, but they do try to make the brand seem like a place where all the good software is available, such as with the friendliness towards indies creating a sense that Xbox is a great place to get indie games.
People are already missing my point. My point is not that Sony sells the most hardware, Nintendo software, and Microsoft services (because none of those things are always true, or even true right now), nor that Sony has the best hardware, Microsoft the best services, Nintendo the best software (that's somewhat subjective, especially software), but rather that the focal point of the brand is on the hardware for Sony, software for Nintendo, and services for Microsoft.
Sony has good software, but they sell better when the hardware does, because the hardware is the driving point of their business strategy with their brand. Nintendo's hardware isn't always high end, especially not the past few gens, but they are doing something with it, namely trying to make hardware that enhances the software (motion controls for Wii, finally making an HD console to make Breath of the Wild), because they use their software to sell the hardware, and the services are an afterthought that's necessary because modern gaming requires it.
Meanwhile Microsoft focuses on services, and use those services to sell software and hardware, but I say that hardware is last for them because it isn't the focal point of the brand. Instead, we see them moving away from hardware altogether, talking about selling Xbox Live on the Switch, starting a cloud based streaming service to rival Stadia. And when they have focused on hardware, like with the Xbox One X, it didn't really work. That was the first time the brand tried to center on the hardware, and it got them nowhere. So they aren't likely to start focusing on hardware with their brand beyond making sure it's powerful enough to compete and run the latest games.