A Detailed History Of The Red Ring Of Death

A Detailed History Of The Red Ring Of Death

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Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat has penned an in-depth analysis of the Red Ring of Death fiasco, calling it "one of the worst snafus in consumer electronics history."

According to Takahashi, Microsoft's rush to launch its next-gen console ahead of Sony and Nintendo, while successful, ultimately cost the company far more than the small advantage it gained by being first out the door. Microsoft refused to recognize early warning signs of major flaws in its production process, including warnings from line engineers as well as shockingly low yield rates. While Microsoft has never released official numbers, Takahashi quotes "several sources" as saying the failure rate at the company's Chinese manufacturers in the early days of production was 68 percent - 68 machines out of every 100 that came off the line were defective. The initial yield on the 360's IBM-built CPU was even worse: only 16 out of every 100 chips produced actually worked.

Microsoft's approach to the release of the Xbox 360 and its subsequent response to consumer complaints shows it is "a software company at heart," according to an anonymous manufacturing executive quoted in the article. "They put something out and figure they can fix it with the next patch or come up with a bug fix."

Takahashi agrees with that assessment, writing, "Microsoft knew it had flawed machines, but it did not delay its launch because it believed the quality problems would subside over time. With each new machine, the company figured it would ride the 'learning curve,' or continuously improve its production. Even though Microsoft's leaders knew their quality wasn't top notch, they did not ensure that resources were in place to handle returns and quickly debug bad consoles. There were plenty of warning signs, but the company chose to ignore them."

Dean Takahashi's painstaking history of the Red Ring of Death, covering the pre-launch days of the Xbox 360 through to the ultimate repercussions of the failures that Microsoft is still dealing with today, can be read in full at VentureBeat.

via: GamePolitics

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Maybe it's just me, but 68% seems a bit high. My personal guess is, while still no excuse, closer to a 1:3 ratio of red rings to none. After all, if that many machines were that defective, I doubt many stores would sell them, because of the money loss from returned systems.

It says "68 machines out of every 100 that came off the line were defective.". That many had been defunct. How many got undetected by QA is a different story. So the number of defunct consoles released in the wild is less than what came of the production line.

I've broken two xbox 360s. I now hate them for it and the lack of power compared to the PS3. However, all my friends near enough have 360s.

thebobmaster:
Maybe it's just me, but 68% seems a bit high. My personal guess is, while still no excuse, closer to a 1:3 ratio of red rings to none. After all, if that many machines were that defective, I doubt many stores would sell them, because of the money loss from returned systems.

well the thing about that is that the stores are instructed that you call microsoft. Some stores, ok almost all stores, ask if you want the store warranty, and you should never buy it. Its a jip. Microsoft already gives you a one year warranty, the moment you purchase it. When a store sells you a warranty its for a year, and when you bring it ot the store to be fixed, all they do is send it to microsoft, it takes just as long to fix, and it technically costs money (because you pay like 50 bucks for the store warranty, which covers the same amount of time.)

There is one good thing about the ring of death, and that is that if you have it, no matter what, they will fix it, and after they fix it, they extend your warranty 3 more years. So say after a year, your cables die? your shit outta luck. but lets say after even 2 years of initial purchase, a full year after factory warranty expires, if you get three red lights, your covered. It will take like a month to get it back, but its a free fix. And then for the next three years, no matter what problem your having, your covered, as an apology for the 3 red lights.

Plus, a secret. If you get 3 red lights more than once, and send it in for repairs more than once, If you ask for a concession, like a free goody, a game or a controller or whatever, usually they will give you one, but you have to ask.

I realy really hope Google will take over microsoft, making an O.S., developing games, releasing a (good) console etc. and much much more.

thebobmaster:
Maybe it's just me, but 68% seems a bit high. My personal guess is, while still no excuse, closer to a 1:3 ratio of red rings to none. After all, if that many machines were that defective, I doubt many stores would sell them, because of the money loss from returned systems.

That's the reported rate on the assembly line, not in the market. To illustrate, at that early defect rate, 32 out of 100 360s would be shipped to stores. Then, again according to anecdotal evidence, ~10 of those 32 would fail (30% is the anecdotal rate I'm using, yes it's the worst case), for an overall (line plus retail) reported defect rate of 78/100. On what test does 22% equal success? The one your customers and early adopters subsidize.

This is why I choose to make money off of MS instead of giving it to them. They only care about getting into your wallet and will lie, cheat, and lobby to change the rules of the game in order to get as much of it as you allow. Great job letting them stay in the games industry.

My 360 has worked perfectly from the day I bought it, and I don't personally know anybody who had the RROD happen to them. So... unlucky!

BentNeatly:

...It will take like a month to get it back, but its a free fix...

A month? that's a really long time, the longest it took them to repair mine (I've had to send it in twice for repairs!) was about 8 days. counting from the same say I called them.
and I think the store warranty's are meant to cover the "power cable's f****d up!" kind of problems :/

mine is brokein because of e74

If my factory had a 68% rejection rate, we'd be out of business so fast you wouldn't even have time to loot or pillage. Hooray for Microsoft, the only power strong enough to bring down those assholes at Microsoft.

You have to admit though, it was quite a technical marvel of failure (rates).

Microsoft really screwed up that time, they're lucky they're such a big company, any other company could have gotten bankrupt from that fiasco.

I enjoy my 360 a lot, but I am getting worried about its stability. I got mine in December 2007, and yet I got a red ring of death about 3 days ago, for a split second. Resetting solved the problem, but ever since then, I'm afraid of going near it. Are people still getting these red rings? Or has that problem subsided? I never got a scratched disk, and I never had any other problems up until this point, but I am worried, because I don't want to send it away.

Takahashi quotes "several sources" as saying the failure rate at the company's Chinese manufacturers in the early days of production was 68 percent - 68 machines out of every 100 that came off the line were defective.

Well those are the numbers for the 360s made by the Chinese, but if 360s are produced elsewhere it can change the accuracy of how many actually fail.

(Now I don't know basically anything about the 360s because I never bought one and don't want one.)

James Raynor:
Well those are the numbers for the 360s made by the Chinese, but if 360s are produced elsewhere ...

They aren't.

Interesting that M/Soft were so desperate to be the first out the door.
Historically being first out in each generation hasn't been good for you.

The first 32 bit consoles were the 3DO, CD32 and Jaguar, remember how many people bought them?

The first 128 bit console was the Dreamcast, oh dear.

The 360 was the first of the current gen, whilst it certainly hasn't been a failure in sales figures, it's pretty safe to say it's been plagued with mechanical gremlins. It also looks increasingly likely to come 'last' in the current console war as the Wii sweeps all before it and the PS3 ever so slowly gains something resembling momentum.

First 8-Bit system was Calecovision, 1st color handheld was GameGear, aka, Battery-Eater.

Jumplion:

Microsoft really screwed up that time, they're lucky they're such a big company, any other company could have gotten bankrupt from that fiasco.

You don't think Google or Oil Company #5 (Bastards!) could?

This is quite worrying, how high the numbers are. Personally the only people who ive know to have RROD is my freind and his brother (they had one each because theyre rich), both of there got RROD on the same day. I have only experienced this gremlin once, but that was for a split second when we had a power-cut. This could be normal after sudden power loss, or the luckiest save of a console ever.

Also just as a general flaw with the xbox, if i dont leave a disk in the tray, it wont open again for a good five to ten minuets of pressing the open tray button.

Khell_Sennet:
First 8-Bit system was Calecovision,

I always thought calecovision was what happened when you got a head injury.

fix-the-spade:

Khell_Sennet:
First 8-Bit system was Calecovision,

I always thought calecovision was what happened when you got a head injury.

Arguably so, yes it's that too.

I would have to disagree that the was that high, a good example of this was me. I purchased a 360 unit and within 3 months the the lovely red rings killed it, i can easily tell you that it was because of heating problems. Same story with my friend who bought the system, installed it, put in the gears of war cd then went to eat dinner came back and red ring. So my point being that its almost impossible to tell since its just so random, 50 percent sounds about right to me.

The quoted 68% figure is from early in the production process. The article actually says that this number is pretty typical of early yields when producing consumer electronics. The problem isn't that early yields were at 68%, but that they didn't improve on the production process enough before launch. Definitely unacceptable, but I think the article's explanation for the misstep - basically, treating hardware like software that can be "patched" - is pretty illuminating.

Worse yet, treating customers as if we will accept defective products on the promise of future repairs... That just show how much they consider us sheep.

Khell_Sennet:
Worse yet, treating customers as if we will accept defective products on the promise of future repairs... That just show how much they consider us sheep.

Unfortunately people have proved them right, 19 million units sold (according to Wikipedia) all without doing anything to fix the console (regardless of what the PR people say, I haven't noticed the newer, including the Elite, consoles being anymore reliable than the older ones).

shatnershaman:

Jumplion:

Microsoft really screwed up that time, they're lucky they're such a big company, any other company could have gotten bankrupt from that fiasco.

You don't think Google or Oil Company #5 (Bastards!) could?

I mean a company that isn't as big as Microsoft, sheesh.

The RROD happened to me 5 min. after turning on the 360. Once I brought it back to the store and explained the situation I was told that the returns are extremely high. I guess I wasn't excited enough about the 360 to go through the trouble. I saved the money and bought the PS3 a couple years later. I like both consoles, once I have enough money I will get a 360. I just don't like being hassled because of bad products.

Jumplion:

shatnershaman:

Jumplion:

Microsoft really screwed up that time, they're lucky they're such a big company, any other company could have gotten bankrupt from that fiasco.

You don't think Google or Oil Company #5 (Bastards!) could?

I mean a company that isn't as big as Microsoft, sheesh.

Well you did say any other company.

Everybody I know who has a 360 has had to send it away because of the red ring. And that is like... *counts on fingers* 7 people including me!

 

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