Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Are A Third Of All XBox360s Dud?
The news that one third of all XBox360s is a dud, raises the question: Could it be that the US revival in consumer electronics will fizzle out because of shitty manufacturing?
The US owned the consumer electronics industry until the 1980s when the Japanese took it from them with colour TVs and VCRs which were of vastly superior quality, reliability and price to their US equivalents. Apple and Microsoft have made a valiant effort to wrest back that lead with the iPod, iPhone, stunning looking MacBooks and, of course, Microsoft’s Xbox games machines. Rupert Goodwins very kindly directed me to a blog about Microsoft’s horrendous problems with the quality levels on the XBox 360 at http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/digitaljoystick/archives/129866.asp , and to a perceptive blog of his own on the subject at http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10007101o-2000331777b,00.htm Goodwins’ blog is perceptive because it highlights the basic difference between US manufacturing methods and Japanese manufacturing methods. Whereas Apple and Microsoft use the ‘horizontal’ model for manufacturing, i.e the model developed by the PC industry whereby all components and final assembly are outsourced, the Japanese persist with their ‘vertical’ manufacturing model where they try and make as much as possible of the product in-house. Moreover they devote craftsmanlike pains to getting the product right. So far does this principle go that non-Japanese Asians have told me they only buy ‘Made in Japan’ Japanese consumer goods because, when the Japanese consumer companies outsource manufacturing or assembly to other Asian countries, the quality level falls. As to Apple, well I’ve had a couple of iPods, and that wheel control is a horror. Totally flukey in operation. I put this down to shitty manufacturing quality. It would be a pity if Apple’s invariably beautiful products eventually get spurned by the public because they’re badly built. When we buy a consumer electronics product we take it on trust that its going to work. The Japanese companies have given us that expectation over the last 25 years. It would be a pity if the US re-emergence on the consumer electronics scene fizzles out because the build quality of US products is too poor to meet consumer expectations.Tags: apple 2c, asian countries, games machines, iphone, zdnet