Microsoft has announced it is terminating support for the Xbox in Japan, leaving experts to speculate on the likelihood that anyone will notice.
Effective March 3, Microsoft Japan will no longer offer service for original Xbox consoles, even if they're somehow still under warranty. Yet Japanese gamers who find themselves in the admittedly unlikely position of owning a defective Xbox with warranty coverage will still be taken care of, and probably better than they would have been previously: Warrantied Xbox consoles in need of service will be replaced with an Xbox 360 at no charge.
It's a good deal for owners and virtually risk-free for Microsoft. The Xbox didn't exactly set Japan on fire when it was released in 2002, selling somewhere shy of 500,000 units, and the odds of someone needing warranty service at this point are, in all likelihood, very close to zero. And if a half-dozen or so people do end up claiming replacements under the exchange deal, Microsoft gets to increase its Japanese market share by a percentage point or two. Either way, everybody wins.