The forums, chats, tweets (#bluelightofdeath), blogs, and mainstream media (CNN & Vancouver Sun) are looking closely at the launch of Sony’s Playstation. There are reports of dead on arrival and ‘blue light of death’ failures. One business blog discusses the need to understand and match customer expectations as a way to avoid bad press.
I find the expectation is pretty simple.
It should be simple
A brand new device, in this case, an expensive new game console, the entire experience of the purchase, transport, unpacking, hookup and first turn on should be a joy. The anticipation for those picking up the device on the first day comes crashing down to despair when the device fails to work. Products are expected to provide value, and you expect the device in front of you to work as expected. It’s simple.
I once explained to my son that not all units from production will work (he was in junior high school). He said he understood and that it is fine if the game console he buys just works. Ship the ones that don’t work to someone else.
Sony is saying there is a 0.4% initial failure rate for the 1 million units shipped. This achievement could be the envy of any major product launch. The connected and verbal customers though, and in particular the few with the ‘blue light of death’ issue, do not care about the low overall failure rate. For them, the failure rate is 100%.
Remember there is a person behind every failure. There is an individual story of anticipation and disappointment. There is the non-economic pain associated with the loss of value. There is no joy. Sure the numbers are a means for us to understand the magnitude and rate of field issues. These charts and graphs shield us from the look on someone’s face as the screen stays dark.
The work of product design with input from reliability professionals can further reduce product failure rates. All the basics of risk identification, fault discovery and understanding the customer’s environment sharpen the ability of the design engineer to make a reliable product. It is the point of decision that matters. It is the selection of a component, a circuit approach, a supplier that creates the ability of a product to withstand stresses and work as expected. Focus on how you make decisions. Focus on including the ramifications of each decision on reliability.Focus on your customer and their expectations.
Would you be happy with a 0.4% launch failure rate? Would you be happy with the adverse media attention?
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