Respected San Jose Mercury News journalist Dean Takahashi has conducted a new interview with Microsoft’s Todd Holmdahl, in which the corporate VP of gaming and Xbox repeatedly avoids commenting in detail on the alleged high failure rate of Xbox 360 hardware.
The interview for The Mercury News
features Takahashi’s repeated attempts to get Holmdahl to comment on the widely reported failure rate of the Xbox 360. Despite Microsoft’s insistence that the failure rate is not above the norm for complex consumer electronics, anecdotal evidence continues to suggest it is higher than previous consoles.
When confronted with a question over the failure and the anecdotal complaints, Holmdahl would comment only that: “We’re very proud of the box. We think the vast majority of people are having just a great experience. You look at the number of games they are buying, the number of accessories they are buying, the Live attach. They love the box. They continue to buy the box. That said, we take any customer issue very seriously. We continue to look into these things very deeply. You have seen we have made some changes to our customer service policy.”
The latter comment likely refers to the decision to extend the warranty of the console in North America
from ninety days to one year, seen by some as admission of ongoing problems.
When asked whether the return rate was normal for a console, Holmdahl commented only, “We continue to say the vast majority of the people are really happy with it.” When pressed to disclose the actual percentage failure rate Holmdahl answered: “We don’t disclose the actual number.”
Continuing with his line of questioning, Takahashi then asked whether the failure rate is normal compared to the original Xbox, to which Holmdahl again replied, “We don’t comment on that.” All attempts to inquire about the failure rate in comparison to the PlayStation 3, in terms of yield rates at manufacture or the move from 90nm to 65nm chip production, were met with similar rebuffs.
The closest Holmdahl came to properly addressing the issues is in response to a question asking whether a high defect rate would ruin the business model and potential profit from the Xbox 360. To this he answered, “I would say we don’t have a high defect rate. The vast majority of people are really excited about their product, and that we are targeting profitability for next year.”