Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Big Business Blunder

One of the tenants expressed by the free-marketers, and most Republicans, is the unsupported belief that businesses fear market mistakes and, thus, would not provide bad goods and services. Even though we're constantly reminded just how bad they get as they approach monopoly status. Never mind the American automobile industry that has self-destructed over the past forty-years, today's poster child for arrogant shit is the computer industry. Not only do we have the failure of Vista (I rolled back to XP), but Microsoft has this incredible turd with the XBox 360. Not only do we have the famous red-rind of death, but now we have the CD of Doom:

Microsoft faces new Xbox 360 reliability accusations
Fix would have cost 50c per machine, suit claims

Remember last week's story about Jason Johnson, the Illinois man who sued Microsoft over his Xbox 360's alleged habit of scratching his game DVDs?

Documents unsealed in his court case revealed Microsoft discovered its Xbox 360 could scratch discs before it went on sale in 2005, and even got as far as considering three possible solutions to the problem, the Seattle Tech Report revealed today.

It's the Corvair and Pinto all over again. Only this time without exploding cars.
The characteristic circular scratches can occur whenever the orientation of the console -- which is designed to be used in either a horizontal or vertical position -- is changed while the drive is spinning. Johnson filed his suit after his console scratched three store-bought game discs, and is seeking $50,000 in punitive damages.
Normally, I'd be laughing at the idiot who moved the console while it was active. Being a computer user, you just don't do that unless you want to experience the joys of hard-drive failure. However, Microsoft didn't market the XBox as a computer, but as a gaming console, a product that is routinely moved even during operation. Therefore, they should have engineered the product to be robust and safe as it's easy to foresee the XBox being moved during its intended use.
Testimony obtained from a Microsoft program manager indicates that Microsoft became aware of the problem months before the 360's launch when retail demonstration consoles malfunctioned. The company examined three solutions: strengthening the magnets that hold the discs in place, slowing the rotational speed of the discs, and installing rubber bumpers to cushion the discs, but rejected them all. Installing the bumpers could have cost as little as $0.50 per console, the suit claims.

It's not the first time Microsoft has come under fire for alleged foreknowledge of Xbox 360 hardware issues, either. Back in September, an expose penned by VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi claimed systemic failures in Microsoft's design and quality assurance processes lead to the Xbox 360's now-infamous overheating "Red Ring of Death" failures.
Poison medicine, poison food, defective design (remember the original IPod, the $500 disposable toy as you couldn't replace the battery), crappy operating systems (Windows 95% done..., Vista), and shitty computers with shitty customer service: Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM...

How anyone could have faith in big business just amazes me. And yet we're supposed to trust in the ability of the markets to punish those who take short-cuts... Harrumph.

If you believe that, I've got a hedge fund you might be interested in...

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