There is a curious tale told on 1UP about Justin Lowe, the dedicated gamer hobbyist who owns and enjoys many consoles, including both a PS3 and an Xbox 360... in fact, its his twelfth 360, as the first eleven all failed:
He purchased his first machine a month after the console launch, but, since then, Justin has not had a working system for longer than a month or two. The list of problems is almost comically large: three red lights of death, two with disc read errors, two dead on arrival, several with random audio and video-related issues and one that actually exploded.
Even though it is possible there is some environmental issue contributing, I'm inclined to believe, on the facts as presented, that Microsoft bears the responsibility for this problem, especially given that none of his other consoles have given Justin a problem.
Microsoft claim their failure rates are within or below the 3-5% industry standard range. Retailers claim the rate is closer to 30%.
A little mathematics can shed some light on this...
- If the failure rate was 30%, the odds for Justin's Curse would be 1 in 564,503.
- On the other hand, if the failure rate was 5%, the odds for Justin's Curse would be 1 in 204,8 00,000,000,000, or 1 in 204 billion (UK) - that's more than 1 in 200 trillion in US terms!
There are 11 million Xbox 360's in the world. Which do you think is more likely?
If Justin is an entirely unique case, that would mean we can estimate the failure rate of the console to be approximately 22.9% (the inverse of the eleventh root of eleven million). On the other hand, if the retailer's estimate is correct, there should be roughly another dozen and a half people who have experienced Justin's Curse - Microsoft could tell us how many there actually are, but you can bet that they don't want to!
The failure rate of the Xbox 360 is likely, on the basis of the evidence available, to be greater than 20% (1 in 5). More than that we can't say with any confidence. But it's certainly not the 5% that Microsoft would have you believe.