January 20, 2008
Scandal! Corporate Greed! The Truth Behind The Red Ring of Death?
A source deep within Microsoft has given an interview to the website 8bitjoystick.com (who successfully predicted Bungie's departure from Microsoft) about the real story behind the Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death. Reportedly understaffed departments, the need to beat Sony to market, and corporate arrogance led to the Xbox 360's abnormally high failure rate.
The insider reported that the test, quality, manufacturing, and supplier management departments were all understaffed and unable to cope with the problems at hand. He then went on to describe how in their determination to beat Sony to market, Microsoft wasn't willing to stop production and get the problem fixed, rather just continue shipping will also trying to fix the problem. He pointed out that Microsoft saw it as a numbers game, that even the first million or so being defective was worth getting ahead of Sony in the market.
The interview also details a few other interesting aspects of the problem. For instance, the insider states that the failure rate for the Xenon (the first Xbox 360s) was at least 30%. He also details how the repair process works, and that it's very unlikely you will get either a new Xbox 360 or your own repaired. In fact, it's very possible to get your new more "reliable" Xbox 360 exchanged for a repaired Xenon.
I may not be an expert in console hardware, but this is what I'd do if I where Microsoft: release a "new and improved" redesigned Xbox 360, just like Sony did the the PS2 Slimline. A slightly different shape and/or color, quieter DVD drive, and compatibility with the current hard drives ... oh yeah, and no Red Ring of Death. This would help to erase the current perception of the Xbox 360 as a highly fallible console, because this is really going to hurt them in the long term.
Of course Microsoft sort of did this already with their more expensive Xbox 360 Elite, which is supposed to have fixed the Red Ring of Death. So you can either buy an Xbox 360 and wait until dies on you, or you can purchase the more expensive Elite version which works like it's supposed to ... I think it might be time for a lemon law for gaming consoles.
Posted by Clayton Ashley at 1:00 AM
| Comments (5)
| Posted to Business
I totally agree on the Lemon Law being applied to Game consoles, ever since the PS1 most companies think its cool to sell you broken hardware at full price; I remember having to flip my PSX upside down just to play games...
In the first but never published draft of my article my source ripped into the heads over at Xbox and pulled no punches. Then toned it down for the final draft. Man if you only know the backstory that lead for them to talk to me it would be a pretty good pulp novel. I personally can't think of a better source of information about than my source. I bet that they know more about the internal workings of the Xbox 360 than Steve Balmer and Bill Gates.
However I can't officially deny the influence of Monster Trucks in Tacoma or all women's Roller-derby on this story.
"About the real story behind the Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death. Reportedly understaffed departments, the need to beat Sony to market, and corporate arrogance led to the Xbox 360's abnormally high failure rate."
What a scoop, bet no-one dreamt those were the reasons behind it.
Um, I think the "lemon law" simply requires a car manufacturer to repair or replace the unreliable vehicle (after a lengthy process of documenting and trying to correct). Isn't that what MS has done with the 360 hardware problem, except without all the red tape? Do we really want to add another layer of bureaucracy? If you want an analogy to the auto industry, it would make more sense to ask for recalls on faulty products that for lemon laws.
Something else to think about: buggy software is routinely delivered and patched later due to a variety of business decisions, no big scandal there. Is this very different?
I don't like buggy software or hardware and the associated inconvenience of getting them fixed. However, a company's willingness to make things right is a good thing, not to be underestimated. Business executives have to make a lot of difficult choices to stay competitive in any business, and Microsoft has stayed ahead of the competition at every step from the very beginning because they are extemely smart marketers and business strategists. I'm greatly saddened every time a superior product by a small company is bought out and swallowed by a corporate giant but at the same time, it's a price I'm willing to pay for an open economy and a free enterprise system. But I digress from the subject at hand....
Recognizing that a problem exists and continuing production while trying to correct it is a business decision, not a moral decision, particularly when it involves a failure rate prediction rather than selling something that is already broken. We aren't talking safety issues here--that would be a different matter.
On a final note, I found the headline about the "Red Rind of Death" ironically amusing on an article about quality control.
That article was interesting. Especially the question about the profitability of the division. Microsoft has lost astronomical amounts of money on the XBox and the 360 by now, even with the smashing success of the Halo games. God only knows how many sales of XP and Vista Microsoft has lost in the meantime.
Please keep your comments relevant to this entry: inappropriate or purely promotional comments may be removed. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted — no need to use <p> or <br> tags.