The product launches of Boeing's Dreamliner and Sony's Playstation have received a lot media attention for the early failures. Meeting customer expectations is easy, they expect the new product to work.
It Should Just Work: Story of Product Launch and Expectation
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It should just work
T he f orums, chats, twits (#bluelightof death), blogs, and main stream media (CNN)
are looking closely at the launch of Sony’s Playstation. T here are reports of dead
on arrival and ‘blue light of death’ f ailures. One business blog discusses the need
to understand and match customer expectations as a way to avoid the bad press. I
f ind the expectation is pretty simple.
It should just work.
A brand new device, in this case an expensive new game console, the entire
experience of the purchase, transport, unpacking, hookup and f irst turn on should
be a joy. T he anticipation f or those picking up the device on the f irst day comes
crashing down to despair when the device f ails to work. Products are expected to
provide value, and you expect the device in f ront of you to work as expected. It’s
I once explained to my son that not all units f rom production will work (he was in
junior high school). He said he understood and that it is f ine, if the game console
he buys just works. Ship the ones that don’t work to someone else.
Sony is saying their is a 0.4% initial f ailure rate f or the 1 million units shipped. T his achievement could be the
envy of any major product launch. T he connected and verbal customers though, and in particular the f ew with
the ‘blue light of death’ issue, do not care about the low overall f ailure rate. For them the f ailure rate is 100%.
Remember there is a person behind every f ailure. T here is an individual story of anticipation and
disappointment. T here is the non-economic pain associated with the loss of value. T here is no joy.
Sure the numbers are a means f or us to understand the magnitude and rate of f ield issues. T hese charts and
graphs shield us f rom the look on someone’s f ace as the screen stays dark.
T he work of product design with input f rom reliability prof essionals can f urther reduce product f ailure rates. All
the basics on risk identif ication, f ault 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 ramif ications of each decision on reliability.Focus on
your customer and their expectations.
Would you be happy with a 0.4% launch f ailure rate? Would you be happy with the adverse media attention?