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-   -   Xbox Problems in japan (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/area-51/11246-xbox-problems-japan.html)

Joseph George June 25th, 2003 01:32 AM

Xbox Problems in japan
Microsoft cuts 17 percent of the workforce at the Japan branch.

According to a new report in Nikkei BizTech, Microsoft has laid off 34 employees in the Xbox division of its Japanese offices. The layoffs apparently caused a commotion among the workers because of differences in business practices between Japan and the United States.

According to the article, the Xbox division staff in Japan, which consists of approximately 200 employees, was called to a meeting at the company's Tokyo office on March 20. The staff was then told by its new division head, Par Singh, that the sales of the Xbox in Japan had been extremely disappointing, and that the company will be forcing early retirement on a number of its workers.

The employees were then told to check their e-mail inboxes, in which 34 of the workers received a notice to pack their belongings and go to the conference room. The passageway to the conference room had security guards protecting all the elevators and emergency exits. The terminated employees could use the restroom only if they were accompanied by one of the retained employees. According to one of the employees who was cut, it felt as though they were treated like criminals.

John Locke June 25th, 2003 04:50 AM

I can see how that would ruffle some feathers over here. I hope the security guards were bowing at least.

Vladimir Koifman June 25th, 2003 06:48 AM

This is a fairly usual way to manage lay-offs in big companies over here, in Israel. As a courtesy, a pre-paid taxi to home is usually offered to the layed-off, as not everybody is able to drive calmly by himself in such circumstances.

Joseph George June 25th, 2003 08:30 AM

But to do this in Japan is about the worst type of public relations job any company can do. Welcome to the Microsoft world. Hopefully the Playstation 3 platform will one day replace PC, and the operating system standard will become Linux 2 with a code name "Good Bye Bill", or "BillKill"

I can see Sony hiring some of these newly made Microsoft haters to work on PS3. I'm sure they have good ties to the rest of the employees there and all the confidential data will go straight to Sony.

I wonder what criteria Microsoft used to select who was to get fired? Was it performance evaluation, or Microsoft loyalty determined on the No. of times the employees clicked an Sony's web site?

While Sony is making excellent profits on the Playstation hardware and software, Microsoft has been losing money on anything it does with the Xbox. PS3 will be the real Xbox killer; it will be using high power cell processors with nanotechnology. So far everything indicates that Xbox2 will be more or less PC-based, which will make it expensive and inefficient compared to PS3. Wake up Bill! Go back to your nerd herd and concentrate on cleaning windows. I got tired of mine freezing up.

Adrian Douglas June 25th, 2003 09:53 AM


Sony actually lose money on PS2 hardware. They lose 5000 per console, which is about US$25.00.

As for Microsoft, that's a totally Western method of sacking people. One of the reasons many large companies here in Japan are in financial trouble, Sony included, is that they very rarely lay people off. Many Japanese companies have extremely top heavy management structures as when someone has been doing a job for a while they promote them. If there is no position to promote them to them a position is often created.

Keith Loh June 25th, 2003 10:04 AM

No surprise. The Xbox is a monstrosity that for the longest time had only one game worth playing: Halo. The team that designed the Xbox were like those American car makers who didn't know why the Japanese weren't buying their huge, ugly sedans. Ugly box design. Controllers too big for small hands.

That said, the Xbox in my apartment has been modded by my roomie so that it is networked to our PCs. Now we can play downloaded anime and project it on our wall.

Vladimir Koifman June 25th, 2003 10:07 AM

Joseph, somehow I believe they are generously compensated, getting 1-2 month salary upon termination.
As for criteria for lay-offs, there might be quite a few.
First, it might be on per-project basis. If some project is closed, most of its participants are let go.
Second, on the perforamce basis. Large corporations usualy have a very organized scoring and review system, where every employee is ranked according to many criteria. By the way, loyality to the company is one of these criteria. Then when the time comes everything is basically ready. Those who ranked worst are layed off first.
If the second criterion was chosen by Microsoft this time, I doubt Sony can extract huge benefit hiring the layed-off.

Nigel Moore June 25th, 2003 11:25 AM

Mind you, if they had completed their projects, there would be little reason for treating them like criminals. Guards in the corridors blocking the exits? Come on!

Dan Holly June 25th, 2003 11:57 AM

As a former manager in a large corporation, I actually support how this was handled.

Some people have proven that when being laid off or fired they can go ballistic or as we call it here in the USA the go "postal". Some people grab anything proprietary that they can get their hands on at that final moment, or even worse sabotage something.

It does happen everyday, just pick up the news paper in the USA, or watch CNN.

As for the Xbox.....Bill has a vision, and will "pull" the market in the direction their business strategy supports. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that's how big corporations work.

Give the whole thing 5 years, and the Xbox you can buy now, will not look, feel, or work like the one available today. The current model does not do much more than play games or DVD's. Tomorrow that will all change, and you will have more of an entertainment center with much more diversity, even though currently the Xbox's hardware and OS is by far superior to anything in it's competitive range.

Joseph George June 25th, 2003 12:29 PM

I just don't like Microsoft and their business practices and the computer geek Bill Gates on top of it. He should get life and stop screwing everyone. Once he copied the Windows interface concept from Apple, the MS Office Suite was good enough to be used for 99.9% office tasks. Why do we need to pay the nerd for his close to annual Windows updates. It is a bad unhuman monopoly, adt he's unable to come out with a decent product that is does not have tons of problems.

Xbox came out a year after PS2 and it improved on it. I doubt that Xbox2 will be better than PS3, or that it would become some kind of universal platform, unless the geek spends half on his fortune on it, which he won't because he likes his money more than anything else.

I don't think that there is another company I would dislike, maybe Monsanto, the pesticide, agent orange, PCB, Nutrasweet, and genetically altered food company, whatever they are called now.

Ken Tanaka June 25th, 2003 12:52 PM

Opinions on Bill Gates have become like butts; everyone seems to have one.

But regarding Microsoft copying Apple's interface, recall where Apple got it to begin with; Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Keith Loh June 25th, 2003 12:54 PM

The problem you have with Bill is his business practices, not the fact that he is a 'geek'. There are a ton of corporations out there where the people in charge have no technical knowledge whatsoever and are only in business to make money off stocks without caring about their product. You can't say this about Bill Gates. From all reports, he drives his products in the same way that Steve Jobs drives Apple.

John Locke June 25th, 2003 06:05 PM


You have to consider the culture, though. What MS did here would be the equivalent of having armed guards do a similar layoff in the U.S., but instead throwing each person to the ground and dragging them out. From a western perspective, we think "Ah, well...harsh, but not over the top." From a Japanese perspective, it's unbelievably harsh.

Main thing is...it COULD have been handled in a much more culturally-sensitive fashion. "Public humiliation" is the big no-no here. The suicide rate proves that any humiliation is taken much more seriously here than in the West, but making it rather "public" just augments it. They should've contacted them at home at least.

Michael Westphal June 25th, 2003 09:08 PM

"But regarding Microsoft copying Apple's interface, recall where Apple got it to begin with; Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)."

Not exactly true. I can't find the link at the moment, but Jef Raskin was already working on a GUI when Apple visited PARC. They WERE influenced by PARC (mouse) but didn't steal the idea, and unlike Microsoft, Apple went way beyond PARC even in their first implementation - One menu bar, overlapping windows, other stuff.

Ken Tanaka June 25th, 2003 10:45 PM

I stand corrected by Michael.

This may be the link you were looking for. Many thanks, Michael.

Dan Holly June 26th, 2003 12:36 PM

I agree, and looking back at my post it seems a little dry.

Culture has always been a touchy thing for international companies.

On the other side of the coin, I'm wondering how well the workers in Japan are adapted to the "american way" when it comes to job cuts with a US based/owned company.

In this case it didn't seem to go over very well, but do you have any insight for the overall picture?

Joseph George June 26th, 2003 01:40 PM

If a company does not adopt to the local culture, it will fail. You can't use Japanesse personnel methods in the US and you can't use US methods in Japan. Lunchbox is an absolute failure in Japan. In addition billy did not want to pay a Japanese firm for some of the development they did for the Lunchbox and until now he ows them $. He decided not to pay and was going to hire another Japanese company for Lunchbox2 development. Then he realized that the 1st company has all the expertise, so he's back with them, paying them everything that he owes. None of this sits well with the Japanese. There are 2 kinds of people -- the ones who kiss up to billy, admire him, and call him Uncle Bill, and the ones who know the reaity. If you are into making movies and video, and you're an artist, you most likely belong to the 2nd category. If you make movies and videos and and you're a salesman, you most likely belong to the 1st category. Plus there are the ones who do not know because they don't care about computers and ones who don't have the brains to make correct decision. Just hearing opinion of someone in this industry on Bill Gates will tell you a lot about that person.

Keith Loh June 26th, 2003 01:46 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Joseph George : If There are 2 kinds of people -- the ones who kiss up to billy, admire him, and call him Uncle Bill, and the ones who know the reaity. If you are into making movies and video, and you're an artist, you most likely belong to the 2nd category. If you make movies and videos and and you're a salesman, you most likely belong to the 1st category. Plus there are the ones who do not know because they don't care about computers and ones who don't have the brains to make correct decision. Just hearing opinion of someone in this industry on Bill Gates will tell you a lot about that person. -->>>

Only two kinds of people, George? You sure about that?

Joseph George June 26th, 2003 02:13 PM

That's right. The gills that like the boys and the boys that like the girls, except in this town half of them are confused a lot and that creates two more categories. Hey Keith, don't take my posts too seriously. I don't.

Michael Westphal June 26th, 2003 03:49 PM

10 types of people
I thought there were actually 10 types of people.

Those who understand Binary

And those who don't.


Joseph George June 26th, 2003 07:22 PM

hoo is sheeee? hooooooo is Binary? Sheeeeeee cute? Anyway, going to a great party, then the entertainment technology expo, then again flying away. Have a goodwhatever. If Binary cute, ship her heeeer. I don't have to understand her as long as we understand each other.

John Locke June 26th, 2003 09:16 PM


As you know, the "unofficial" international business standards, methods, and protocol are dominated by the U.S. way of doing business simply because it's the biggest market in the world by far.

Over here, they tend to divide their businesses into two sectors...international and domestic (not simply in an operational sense)...and the differences are night and day. Products are deliberately "localized" to prevent outside competitors from easily entering the market (for instance, you can't buy printer cartridges for an Epson printer bought in the States and carried over here because they've changed them slightly to ensure they don't fit...and Epson is a Japanese company!). So, the attitude is definitely "US" vs. "them" (notice the difference in capitalization).

But even though xenophobia still reigns supreme all over Asia, reality is starting to sink in. Japan has been in a recession for over a decade now and one of the main reasons for this is the conflict between Japanese societal culture and business culture--business culture that more and more is becoming international even down to the "Mom and Pop" business level. Because of that, the divisions between the international and domestic branches of companies are starting to break down (out of necessity)...and this is causing adjustment problems. Recently, a major company over here swapped the employees of their international division with their domestic division...can you imagine that? They flip-flopped the whole thing just to try to breakdown the US vs. them mental barrier and to get people thinking globally rather than huddling in a corner guarding what's theirs.

So...realization is here, but I think it'll take a long time to work out all the conflicts that are required. For instance, in the U.S., the strongest/smartest/most efficient way wins out, simply because that's the way to make money. And it doesn't matter if the idea comes from a top engineer/executive or a clerk in the mailroom. Over here, a younger person wouldn't be able to outshine his older, more accomplished colleague in a higher position...that just isn't done. So, innovation and motivation are squashed.

There's also the mindset here that no one wants to try something different until one influential person/company has the guts to try it...and if they're successful, everyone floods the gates trying to do the same thing. Change doesn't come easily here. I think it's so funny that everywhere you look here...and I mean everywhere...all you see are brown, long-haired miniature dachsunds. Why? Because that's the pet everyone else has now.

But that's not to say the "American Way" is the best way. It's proven itself to be the way to make money... but Japan has a rich culture and some practices that are very refreshing compared to other cultures. I imagine Japan will eventually come up with a way to compete full-force in the international market (and when that happens, look out!) while still retaining the best of their timeless traditions. I hope that's the case.

Dan Holly June 27th, 2003 01:01 AM


Thanks for taking the time to give us the inside view.

Very interesting to say the least.

The "brown, long-haired miniature dachsunds" adds an interesting twist.

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