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It's Not About The Technology 198

Posted by timothy
from the it's-about-the-risk dept.
prostoalex writes "No one quite knows the exact point when high-tech marketing went wrong. When instead of selling distinct products and services, the company Web sites and brochures started pitching 'the next big thing.' When even software developers don't have a slightest idea about what's being sold to them. Raj Karamchedu from Silicon Image, however, feels that certain things in high-tech marketing should be straightened out, hence this book." Read on for Moskalyuk's review of Karamchedu's It's Not About the Technology .
It's not about the technology
author Raj Karamchedu
pages 230
publisher Springer
rating 4
reviewer Alex Moskalyuk
ISBN 0387233504
summary Developing the craft of thinking for a high-tech corporation

20 chapters are written from the point of view of tech marketing executive, as Karamchedu tries to answer the question of why some products gain a loyal audience and enjoy commercial success, while the others are simply additions to the dusty shelves of history. Everyone has their favorite comparison, where a technically advanced product does not gain acceptance on the market while a supposedly inferior competitor is rolling in cash. Hey, IBM built an entire theory on how it was safe to let Microsoft sell its not-so-great DOS with IBM PCs in order to push the hardware from the warehouse while the company was preparing the next revision of state-of-the-art OS/2 -- which, of course, everyone will buy on the day of release in order to replace Microsoft's software.

History occasionally teaches tech marketers some curious lessons, and the conclusion that the author comes up is summarized in the book title. The title might sound like an insult to a design engineer, but in most of the cases the success in the market is not guaranteed by superiority of technology. Karamchedu is on the mission to find out why.

The first chapters take us through a conflict inside a company. Seldom will you find a high-tech startup where marketing people do not clash with engineers. Marketers promise the features to the customers in order to adhere to the mantra of "we listen to our customers," only to see feature requests denied by the engineers, since the budgets and deadlines are fixed. Marketers then complain to the executives about lack of response from the engineering staff and their inability to deal with the new features, while engineers fight back, claiming that the product is about to miss the deadline even with existing feature set and overworked staff.

Later, Karamchedu focuses on a second problem, peculiar to high-tech marketers: after being immersed in the technology world for too long, they cannot relate to the customers. Hence grandmas in Best Buy staring at the computer described as "P4 3.0 GHz 256 DDR 40.0 GB DVD/CD-RW" when all she wants to know is whether she can check email and view photos of the grandkids. Marketers forget to empathize with the customers. They spend too much time with engineering, and like to tell customers how the new microprocessor has a much wider front-side bus, or how their new piece of software supports dual-core systems, without really telling the customer how that will improve business processes or increase efficiency.

The third part of the book takes a look at a typical semiconductor company and tries to draw the plan of attack for a starting marketing executive. At this point the book turns into a manual on high-tech marketing, which the author hopes the readers will find useful, as there are no set rules and algorithms for launching successful marketing campaigns in high-tech world.

The book is quite insightful, but one can't help but feel that it is missing something. It will probably prove to be a valuable read to anyone facing the daunting task of marketing a high-tech product, but even though I got to the last page of the book, I found the title to be too terse and dry, lacking concrete examples and not quite coherent as far as the chapter-by-chapter arrangement. The preface and the author's description of the book are available online. It's also strange that in an attempt to write a textbook on high-tech marketing, the author decided to provide no case studies whatsoever. In Search of Stupidity from Apress is a great book about high-tech marketing, since it tells the story of a failed marketing attempt and also tries to figure out the reasons, but in It's Not About the Technology, Karamchedu just tells years of his personal experience, without references to specific companies or projects, which makes the book a compilation of abstractions on high-tech marketing.


In his spare time Alex enjoys reading technology and business titles. He also keeps a collection of free books for readers on a budget." Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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It's Not About The Technology

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  • Bullsh** detector (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baggachipz (686602) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:32PM (#11247662)
    When looking at a brochure-style website dealing with services or products, count how many times the word "solution" is used. The higher the number, the more full of crap they are. The all-time record is held by ibm.com.
    • by JeffTL (667728) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#11247763)
      I've noticed that myself. And also note how often there isn't an explicit price tag on a "solution" -- that's what makes it different from a product, which is when you can see what you're considering getting and for how much money without promising your firstborn and getting on a mailing list.
      • A few things to note is, in B2B transactions prices are almost never discussed in the "advertisement." This is because prices in B2B are generally negotiable. This has carried itself (sometimes) to B2C transactions. Nothing is wrong with this. A lot of times companies do not want the prices listed because they are so expensive - and the face explanation of the product does not show exactly what the customer is getting (i.e. world class support). Other times prices are not listed because quantity rules,
      • There isn't a price tag on "solution" since in the mind of the marketing twit, you'd pay anything for a "solution". Price is no object for things which solve your problems. And thence lay the heart of the high-tech scam: it will solve our problems. Instead, it has created many, many more problems.

        After all, what would you pay for a "problem"? That's exactly what IBM, Microsoft, Sun and all the rest are really selling you: PROBLEMS. High-tech infrastructure is plagued with problems. But no marketin
    • by micromoog (206608) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:43PM (#11247776)
      That's funny, because IBM actually does drive a lot of the innovation, and definitely performs a lot of the work, in IT. "We intend to sell dog food on the Internet" is a much better bullshit signal.
    • I sort of doubt that IBM could top MS when it started marketing Visual Studio Projects as Visual Studio Solutions many years ago. I believe that defines crap as far as "solutions" goes.
    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:05PM (#11249196) Homepage Journal
      High-tech companies like the term "solution" because of the limitations of the terms "product" and "service". No single product can ever be right for every customer. So customers are rightly suspicious of a single product that purports to solve all problems. A service implies that you simply pay money to a company on a continual basis so they can brush off problems you'd rather be able to take care of yourself.

      But a solution is often a set or range of products, and in the case of vendors like IBM those products are paired with service. When you sell a product, the assumption is that once you sell it, you want nothing to do with the customer from thereon after. Tech support is offered only for problems. But if you are trying to impress upon customers the notion that the product and the sometimes rather involved, in-depth service associated with it are equally important, the term "solution" makes sense.

      While the term is applicable to IBM, it's not applicable to many products that simply bill themselves as a solution, when in fact the vendor would rather eat rat poison than provide integrated and thorough support.

    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Monday January 03, 2005 @09:58PM (#11250523)
      Clearly you can trust "Cosmic Internet Technologies Solutions", based in India. Among their products they offer "miscellaneous solutions". I kind of hope that does not include airline software.

      Apparently they haven't yet met "Kosmic Technology Solutions", also based in India, which provides "solutions for a dynamic environment where business and technology strategies converge". Gosh, don't you just love all that convergence?

    • by bhadreshl (841411)
      There is a distinction between a 'product', 'service', and 'solution'.
      The service sector is being overpopulated with competition as outsourcing increases.
      So companies have no choice, but to innovate, and provide a *solution*. This "solution" does a lot more than just a simple service. This is what will drive the service sector in the future
      Wouldn't it be better if a software product provided a solution rather than just a service. Your statement is also valid because some companies nowadays say they ar
    • Re:Bullsh** detector (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bush Pig (175019) on Tuesday January 04, 2005 @12:00AM (#11251164)
      I've just finished reading Don Watson's "Dictionary of Weasel Words", recently published in Australia (I don't know whether it's available in the rest of the world, but there's an associated website, www.weaselwords.com.au). It's a merciless assault on the misuse of language by marketeers, managers, politicians and other such weasels. His definition of solution includes a quote from Hudson Human Capital Consultants: "... our consultants are able to deliver the entire end-to-end solution for employers with the minimum of fuss."

      You'd probably enjoy it as much as I did.
  • Blame M$ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:33PM (#11247670)
    It went wrong when the biggest players in the market can sell lemon to the consumers and get away with it. Think of how many versions of M$ windows are unusable before a service pack 2 or 3.

    Imagine buying a car and it doesn't work until 6 months later when your manufacturer has a recall for you. Commercial hi-tech industry seriously need a good role model.

    • Re:Blame M$ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:40PM (#11247755) Homepage
      Think of how many versions of M$ windows are unusable before a service pack 2 or 3.

      Hmm, Windows2000 and XP ran just fine for me right out of the box without service packs. Yeah, you needed a good firewall (hardware and software) and you needed to make sure some services weren't running but I really don't consider that to make the "unusuable".

      Honestly, I wouldn't run ANY OS without the above mentioned changes being made to the configuration.

      Should we say that RedHat is bad because everyone knew that you shouldn't use a RH release before X.3?
      • Yeah, the grandparent is a zealot - over-exagerating about "OMG, w1nd0z3 is sooo crashy and insecure". I use XP, and rather like it. Since I'm a geek in the know, I can keep Windows running safely and smoothly, when I need to run it.

        The point you didn't address, however, is that "Microsoft is the cause of this problem". He's dead wrong that "Crappy software from Redmond" is the root cause, but he has the right culprit. Over-Hyped, crappy software from Redmond that came pre-installed on every bloody PC is t
        • Re:Blame M$ (Score:3, Funny)

          by AviLazar (741826)
          Oh my god I think I just saw a cat and a dog living in harmony, the moon turning blood red, and the sun going black as coal itself. People defending M$ - the angels are blaring their trumpets - Bill Gates is logging into /. for the first time and not seeing his name shredded :)

          All in all, I have used win 95 all the way up - and while they all had their issues - nowhere did I ever call them unuseable (well maybe except ME which stayed on my hard drive only as long as it took me to reformat)...Everything ha
        • Over-Hyped, crappy software from Redmond that came pre-installed on every bloody PC is the cause.

          The integrated, pre-installed, software bundle has been the key to success in the mass market. Connect the cables, switch on the power, and in under ten minutes you are good to go.

        • Yeah, the grandparent is a zealot - over-exagerating about "OMG, w1nd0z3 is sooo crashy and insecure". I use XP, and rather like it. Since I'm a geek in the know, I can keep Windows running safely and smoothly, when I need to run it.

          You know, I've got this big monitor sitting on my desk suffering from a cold solder joint somewhere deep inside it's bowels, so sometimes it blinks out, but if I hit it just right, it works fine for another few days. The lid on my laptop won't stay up because it's gettin on in
      • Windows2000 and XP ran just fine for me right out of the box without service packs

        "Works for me" doesn't count as a performance metric. In my case, W-XP got a virus/worm (the one that says your system will reboot in 60 seconds) about three minutes after being connected to the outside world. And I still (after more than a year) haven't got my older hardware to work. Things like an Adaptec SCSI card and a Genius scanner, not some obscure, little known, hardware. The least one would expect from a "usable" OS

      • Windows 2000 was the fifth or sixth iteration of windows. Hardly what I consider a "fresh" product.

        XP did ship with an awful PNP security hole too.
    • There were other choices besides Windows at that time, but guess what? The consumers made a choice. Whether or not it was prudent is subjective, but no one forced anyone to purchase anything. I have been using MS products for more than a decade, and I can tell you I have not had problems. One can similarly state that no one should buy a computer with an OS that doesn't support the vast majority of hardware, software, and since it is a minority player in the OS market, support is lousy for non-nerds. Get my
    • Blame Ourselves! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by beaststwo (806402)
      We're the reason that bullshit sells. We're the ones that have to have the new toy, the new drug to try and satisfy our technology cravings.

      When I was a kid, industry pulled the same crap on housewives by putting the same detergent in a packaging label "new and improved". Media outlets provide crap programming because that's what people will watch, which sells advertising. .Marketers have found equally fertile ground in technology.

      If you want better products, quit buying the bullshit. Fewer dollars c

    • Re:Blame M$ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Audacious (611811) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:54PM (#11248394) Homepage
      I believe that the blurring of lines between what is being sold to someone and what is being leased has not helped things out at all.

      My take on the above is:

      Sold: An item is sold to you when you do not have to make any other payments to the manufacturer and you do not have to give it back after a specific period of time.

      Lease: An item is leased when you have to make payments based up a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly time period and, after the lease has expired, the item has to be returned to the manufacturer.

      From the above, if you "buy" a copy of Windows and do not have to make any additional payments, then the copy has been sold to you - not leased. If this is true (ie: M$ sold the software to you and did not lease it) then all of the leasing agreements imposed by the EULA are null and void. Further, your rights as a purchaser of a product have just increased ten fold because there are a lot of rules and regulations about items which are sold which do not pertain to items which are leased.

      With the recent decision by a court in California that M$ et al must display the EULA on the outside of the box and/or have it readily available for viewing before a purchase is made - the distinction of whether a piece of software is sold to the end user or leased will become a greater issue in the near future.
      • What you buy from Microsoft is the physical media (if provided) and a license to use their software, under the terms and conditions of an end-user agreement.

        Joe leases his house or his forklift, not his software.

    • Many posters must be too young to remember Win16. Apparently on /. you have to name Windows 1,2,3.0,3.1, WinNT 3.x, Windows 95 etc. and remind them that Windows XP is NT 5.x!
  • by rainmayun (842754)
    If the people making the purchase decisions aren't the software engineers, then why should the advertisements be tailored to them? of course I am speaking out of the side of my neck... in a more ideal environment, the purse-string-holder would consult the geeky-technician for an opinion before pulling the trigger on any tech purchases.
  • I don't know about you but I think he has egg on his face.. ASP.Net was a revolution..

    For the first time rather than having three hundred asp/php pages with cut-and-copy disease we had a way to make structured code that could be developed very quickly and maintained easily.

    At work we've got loads of legacy ASP and lots of new .NET stuff. I'll probably never understand all the ASP. Cut-and-copy disease has made the thing a fucking pain to maintain. In contrast, the .NET stuff is readily understood.

    I don't
    • There's no excuse for having cut and paste disease run rampant in your asp code. There was much better ways to manager your code. Code behind pages are nothing new. If you wanted your code hidden from the page design, all you had to do was make an include file with all the page processing code, and leave the page design where it belongs. Just because ASP.Net forces this upon the developer, doesn't mean it couldn't be done in old ASP. Things can be just as bad in ASP.Net as they were in ASP, if your dev
    • Or something else... really...

      To say that the current version of the Company X product is so much better than the previous version of the _same company's_ product does not really endorse _either_ version.

      Paul B.

    • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:50PM (#11247852)
      I don't know about you but I think he has egg on his face.. ASP.Net was a revolution..

      That is highly debatable, but Joel was talking about .NET. You're talking about one aspect and more easily defined part of .NET, called ASP.NET.

      Back in 2000, it *WAS* confusing as to what the fuck .NET actually was supposed to be. People would ask me what it was, being a developer they thought I knew, and I could usually muster was, "Well, it's a lot of things all under one umbrella."

      Now when people say ".NET" they are usually talking about ASP.NET or the .NET APIs. But back when Joe's article came out, .NET was being bandied about to talk about everything, from Windows .NET Server (aka Windows 2003 Server), to the new API/platform to replace COM, to a set of web services (like Passport), etc.
    • Joel wasn't refering to ASP.NET, he was referring to .NET in general. If you check the article How Microsoft Lost the API War [joelonsoftware.com], you will see what he meant more specifically. He actually quite likes [joelonsoftware.com] ASP.NET.

      However, ASP itself wasn't soley responsible for the problems with cut-and-copy disease. It was a problem of developers thinking at page level versus creating an application that handled page generation. The problem could be prevented with ASP, although admittedly it did encourage that style of codi
    • nothing you couldnt do in jsp/tag libraries
    • Relative to ASP, yes. But compared to good java frameworks it's nothings special. (And there's competition on the Java side which means things are improving faster).

      And don't get me started on "web projects" in VS2003. A piece of crap if I ever saw one.
      • I've tried a lot of Java web frameworks, and I've never found one that's even close to ASP.Net. ASP.Net is very, very, very nice.

        I suspect that JSF with a decent component library and good tool support could be as nice, but that doesn't exist yet. Maybe someday.
    • For the first time rather than having three hundred asp/php pages with cut-and-copy disease we had a way to make structured code that could be developed very quickly and maintained easily.

      I never touch ASP, but if your PHP suffers from "cut-and-copy" you need to take a cattle prod to the developers.

      This is a coding practices issue, not a language issue - the legacy code at my current employer is C++ CGI programs that suffer greatly from the use of cut-and-paste rather than code libraries. It's just ab

    • ASP.Net was not the first time you could use modular programming in web pages. You can do it in perl, you can do it in PHP, and you can do it in Java. If you had significant amounts of copy-and-paste code in every page, you probably had web designers instead of programmers write your website. ASP.Net was not a revolution.
    • I think he has egg on his face.. ASP.Net was a revolution

      If you scroll down to the bottom of one of Joel's articles from 2004, you will find this quote:

      Most .NET developers are ASP.NET developers, developing for Microsoft's web server. ASP.NET is brilliant. I've been working with web development for ten years and it's really just a generation ahead of everything out there. But it's a server technology [...]

      So no, Joel does not have egg on his face. You should give him some credit.

  • Word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:40PM (#11247748) Journal
    It took me 3 years to have a basic understanding of what .NET was. 3 years just to figure out that it was basically Java.
    • Re:Word (Score:4, Funny)

      by GGardner (97375) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:48PM (#11247829)
      It wasn't you. It took MS three years to figure out what they wanted to sell was basically Java.
    • Re:Word (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Swamii (594522)
      It took me 3 years to have a basic understanding of what .NET was. 3 years just to figure out that it was basically Java.

      As a former Java developer, it tooks me less than a week to discover that .NET was much more than Java. From a purely technical and programmatic standpoint, .NET's inclusion of operator overloading, value types, enums, delegates, multiple langauge support built in rather than added as an afterthought, just to name a few, truely make .NET much more than another Java. If it took you 3 ye
      • Re:Word (Score:4, Insightful)

        by skrolle2 (844387) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:32PM (#11249471)
        You list some neat pieces of syntactic sugar that generally makes C# a lot nicer to program than Java, but to call that "much more" is a gross overstatement. They're both reasonably high-level object-oriented compiled virtual machine-using languages with large class-libraries. The only large difference is that C# is very much geared towards XML in all forms (which didn't exist when Java was made), but other than that the differences are minor.
        • Sorry, but multiple langauge support, delegates, value types, almost everything I listed is not syntactic sugar.

          Allow me to demonstrate:

          Built for multiple language support: nothing to do with making your code look pretty; having multiple languages (currently more than 40) targetting the framework opens up the platform to a wide range of developers who use the right language for the right task.

          Delegates: Type safe function pointers, enabling one represent a function as a variable, and integrated true ev
      • > For Microsoft, .NET is a strategy, a marketing phrase, a programming framework,
        > a set of languages and tools.

        It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping!

        Chris mattern
    • I thought .NET was supposed to be language agnostic -- ie, it was SOAP. [although, document/literal, as opposed to early SOAP that was rpc/encoded]

      I wasted way too much time before I found a decent explaination of the different SOAP encoding styles [ibm.com]
  • audience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by confusion (14388) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:40PM (#11247752) Homepage
    I haven't read the book, but it seems to me that, in the case of Best Buy, the company is not selling to "grandma". They're selling the top of the line systems to the clueless geeks (clueful ones would get a better deal online). The fact is that the "speeds and feeds" are what sell many on a more expensive computer.

    In many areas, this is a big driver for convergance of different technologies - to be able to provide a "system" that does "something", not pieces that have to be put together. It's true that PCs have very tech centric marketing, but it is quite a bit better than it used to be - now you go out and buy a computer system with keyboard, mouse, printer, camera, monitor, etc etc. That used to not be the case, so I think there has been some level of improvement.

    Jerry
    http://www.syslog.org/ [syslog.org]

  • by crovira (10242) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#11247764) Homepage
    The quality of software is appaling. The quality of OS is marginally better (or worse depending on what you use.)

    The reason for this is very simple but to fix it requires people to open their eyes.

    It starts with computers being deaf, dumb and blind, gets worse with how we think of information modeling (ask your DBA to model a wall. Its a simple and straight forward request. Bricks & mortar do NOT make a wall.) then we compound this with security that isn't in the least bit secure and it absolutely fall down from there.

    Put on the THINK! sign people.
    • ask your DBA to model a wall

      It would be helpful if you would define what a "wall" is before turning it over to the DBA to work out the details of modeling aforementioned wall.
    • It's all about expectations my friend. Let me illustrate.

      A while back I bought a cheapo RCA TV from target. After a couple of months the TV started making a high pitched noise. My wife could not hear it but made me insane. I took the TV back to target. They gave me a new TV. Not just a new TV but a better one since that model had been upgraded.

      Try doing that with software. I dare you.

      Your typical bubba has been conditioned to accept that software is crappy. Everybody at work just shrugs their shoulders w
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:44PM (#11247792)
    I remember when advertising would list the benefits of a product. Now all it has is a picture of the sky with a question "where do you want to go today?". Thanks a lot, that tells me nothing.

    I was reading some back issues of Pc Magazine from the 80's, the ads told me as much as the articles. Ads would say "The new microsoft compiler has these features... that are better than the last version" I miss those type of ads.
    • I've noticed this too. I was browsing some old issues of Popular Mechanics at my grandfather's, and the ads sometimes had as much information to them as the articles. Only an occasional ad that I see in modern issues of PopSci has even approached the level of those older advertisements, in telling you what the product is, what it does, and how it does it better, in a clear format without lots of marketing speak.
    • Well, there is a good deal of competition, so listing items is pretty pointless. It's a feature of a mature market. And in market maturity, those ads aren't talking to YOU; instead, they're talking to corporate execs in order to control the conversation that happens on golf courses, in bars, and occasionally in the board rooms. In effect, it panders to the lowest common denominator of the class that is highly insulated from the daily reality of work. And the mark of that denominator is branding. After
  • For one, does it work? Is it resilient from crashing or breakdowns? If it breaks, is it easy to fix? Is it easy to set up? Does it fill a basic need?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:46PM (#11247816) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that consumers believe marketers' lies, which are cheaper to produce than a working product. High-tech is no different from any other industry (what do you know of that really works, the way high-tech "doesn't"?), except the cost difference between marketing lies and good products is extremely high, matched only by the their obvious difference in performance. While that NP-complete problem is intractable, the breakdown occurs when consumers react to discovery of the lies, when the product sucks, by switching liars. High-tech offers greater possibility for changing that, as the degree to which products actually work is increasing consumers' ability to filter the lies, and report the reality, through mass P2P communications by people with mutual interest in consuming quality, rather than producing profit.
    • Doc Ruby wrote:

      High-tech is no different from any other industry (what do you know of that really works, the way high-tech "doesn't"?),

      Is that a serious question?

      Flashlights: Maglites were a great improvement over the competition back in the 90s, and the new led flashlights are a great improvement on maglights.

      Pocket knives: Swiss Army knives pretty much kicked the ass of the junky knives you used to see around when I was a kid -- they offer a huge range of choice, and they all pretty much work

      • You may want to look a bit closer on those examples you posted.

        Victorinox (the original Swiss army knife maker) was founded in late 1884, hardly what I'd call a recent invention.

        Coffemakers, it's my (and all other serious coffe drinkers that I've met) experience that the _best_ coffee is made with either Fresh press (Freedom press ;-) or perculator. Both of these are old inventions. Now you may think that the "King of Coffee" drip makers are really good, but that's mainly marketing. (They are good, but no
  • by czaby (93380) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:47PM (#11247820) Homepage
    When I give lectures about highly technical topics like J2EE, half of my presentation is writing buzzwords to the whiteboard and explaining what it actually means. Most of the time I finish with: "See, this is really trivial. It was made to LOOK complicated, because the business needs it. But you are technical experts, you should know how simple it is."
  • Has got to be REAL superfast broadband.

    The cable companies CAN'T and WONT deliver it. I am talking about higher than 100 megabits/sec. .

    Imagine a billion HDTV channels and no more installing operating systems.

    No more needing to even buy a computer because of distributed networking. You will buy supercomputer time for tough projects.

    All this will never occur because municipal fiber to the curb has been killed by stupids in government and their cronies in the private markets.
    • Processor time, which is what supercomputer time would be useful for, is completely trivial these days. You can order a processor that's completely sufficient for all people's non-gaming needs for $28.64 (quantity of 1) from digikey. You need more elaborate chips to manage your network connection than you do to run your software.

      The important features of a computer these days are fixed storage you control, places to plug in devices, removable media, display, and a small amount of low-latency processor powe
    • I have 50 channels of low-def right now. They all suck, and I'm not talking image quality (though also mediocre). I could have 1000, but I have a feeling that the reason the programming on the 50 channel I already have is that there really isn't enough to say to fill them.

      Your software company would be glad to lease you storage space and applications served remotely. That way, whenever they need a new yacht, they just charge you more. You'd leave for another supplier, except that they own your data, and ev
  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:53PM (#11247884)
    People aren't interested in "better" technology for its own sake. (And, "better" is usually a matter of debate. Just because techies think something is better, why should the rest of us agree? Or care?)

    People buy "stuff" that that we can use to do whatever it is that we want to, preferably without breaking a sweat or needing to read a book first. Technical superiority, by itself, isn't much of a sales pitch. Why should I buy something that is "superior" if I know I won't use that "superiority"?

    Techies like to say things like "Windows is unusable" (when most of the world uses it) or "corporations put profit above technology" (gee, do you think?). Just shows why a lot of them get along better with hardware than with people.
    • Actually, some do. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:42PM (#11248274)
      The owner of the company that I work at buys whatever the latest and coolest toys are.

      He doesn't know how to work them or even why a cell phone that works in Europe won't always work in the US .... but he buys them. He buys them because they are cool and newer than what other people have so he can impress them. He is the type who will buy something because it is "superior".
      Techies like to say things like "Windows is unusable" (when most of the world uses it) or "corporations put profit above technology" (gee, do you think?). Just shows why a lot of them get along better with hardware than with people.
      I think the techies are pretty much like other people in that regard.

      They have their point of view based upon their requirements / values and have trouble recognizing that other people have different requirements / values which result in different points of view.
      People buy "stuff" that that we can use to do whatever it is that we want to, preferably without breaking a sweat or needing to read a book first.
      But part of "Marketing" is making the consumer believe they have a "need" that they weren't aware of before, that can only be supplied by your product.

      That "need" can be as esoteric as "I am a rebel against authority" to as mundane as "fast food you like".

      Marketing high tech is different from most other markets because newer stuff is constantly being released. The perception of obsolescence is a key factor both in pushing the new stuff (don't be a loser, everyone else is faster) and in resistance to purchasing (why buy now when tomorrow it will be faster and cheaper).

      I haven't read the book so I don't know if he covers that in depth.
      • 1. "New" doesn't mean "superior". Your boss may buy something because he thinks those two words are synonymous, but they aren't.

        2. Techies who argue "Windows is unusable" -- a palpable untruth --often do so simply to assert their own elitism. They just want us to know that they've defined themselves as too smart to use Windows. Conveniently, then, anyone who does use Windows is stupid. It's just a peacock display.

        3. Techies who whine that businesses put profit before technology forget that profit sprea
        • Possibly. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285)

          1. "New" doesn't mean "superior". Your boss may buy something because he thinks those two words are synonymous, but they aren't.

          True. But in most cases, "superior" is also "new". Faster proc's are usually the newer ones.

          2. Techies who argue "Windows is unusable" -- a palpable untruth --often do so simply to assert their own elitism. They just want us to know that they've defined themselves as too smart to use Windows. Conveniently, then, anyone who does use Windows is stupid. It's just a peacock display.

  • From the linked article:
    ...and I think it proves that something has gone very, very wrong in Redmond.

    Yeah, it's called Microsoft. :)
  • Subscription Model (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grahamsz (150076) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:02PM (#11247940) Homepage Journal
    How long before people start subscribing to "computers"?

    Why not have a reasonably fast system, all the software you need, broadband and tech support for "one low monthly fee". Whenever it gets obsolete someone appears and moves everything to a more recent system.

    We "buy" cellphones that way, many people lease cars that way... sure it wont be popular here, but it'd work for most people.

    • I think Dell or Gateway had something like this going a few years back. You could trade your computer in for a more powerful one. Obviously it didn't pan out because they dropped the scheme.

      Most software these days is pseudo-subscription based. Some are more obvious about it, such as the Norton products which give you X amount of virus definition file updates before they try to mafia-squeeze money from you. Others are more insideous like Quickbooks charging their customers an arm and a leg for a stupid
      • "Other companies like Oracle, don't actually sell their software. You purchase a "support plan" which includes the software. All the companies are constantly devising ways to leverage their mediocre products to get more money from consumers."

        Sounds familiar [redhat.com].

    • You can already lease them.
  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:03PM (#11247959) Journal
    OK, I've been whining in ranting outburts, but they are highly articulate outbursts.

    Every big announcement in the tech field for years now has been one limp-dicked anticlimax after another. Oooo! A new palm top PC running a ShitpileOS (Windows) variant that never quite does anything in particular very well. Oooo! Another all in one home entertainment system that's overpriced and has to be completely replaced if one part of it wears out. Piles of new tech gadgets constructed from lowest common denominator components. $8000 televisions. Cell phones with games worthy of, oh, the Sega Master System, at best. Seventeen more first person shooters that require $3000 worth of PC upgrades.

    It's all just so boring and bland. IMHO, the only neat devices to come out in the past few years are the DVRs (Tivo/Replays/etc) because they really made a common task (watching TeeVee) vastly more efficient, and those tiny USB flash drives which have made shuttling a CD's worth of data quick and easy and tiny. Oh, and I like my iPod. Those are cool.

    What I'd like to see is some existing technologies improved. Stop putting cameras and video games into cell phones, for example, and make the system work better. I should not be having dropped calls in a major metropolitan area at this point.

    And, oh yean, my usual call for a functional sexbot. I'm telling ya, they will make their inventor $billions. If you happen to be working on one, hire me. I'm one of the best general digital and FPGA hardware designers you could hope for. I'm really bored in my current job. I want a piece of that sexbot action.

  • It used to be when a publisher released a product, it was bug-free and of good quality. Nowadays, and this doesn't apply specifically to games -- the same can be said for movies, music and all other "software", you're taking your chances when you purchase something. At least half the products on the market aren't worthy and are just fluff, and the other half are un-original and derivative. And products don't stand on their own any more... they're part of a larger franchised marketing and merchandising pl
  • That's how it has always been in marketing. How do you get someone with a perfectly good set of golf clubs, and for whom the best way to improve his game is to play more, to buy new clubs? TITANIUM!

    Why don't marketers care whether grandma can decode "P4 3.0 GHz 256 DDR 40.0 GB DVD/CD-RW"? Because ALL the profit in this low margin business is from people who CAN decode it.

  • PC specs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:13PM (#11248036) Journal
    Hence grandmas in Best Buy staring at the computer described as "P4 3.0 GHz 256 DDR 40.0 GB DVD/CD-RW" when all she wants to know is whether she can check email and view photos of the grandkids.

    I hear that at work all day and it drives me nuts. Not that I don't look at specs when I buy a computer, but I have learned never to ask about anyone else's new computer because you get the five minute laundry list of numbers that have no real importance. Do I really need to know if your new Duh-ell PC has an 80G or 100G hard drive? PC specs have replaced dick size and engine displacement as bragging fodder or something.

    I overheard the guy in the office next to me last year spend hours on the phone shaving costs of his new PC. $10 here. $5 there. He must have spent 20 hours to save $100. He drives a $45,000 car. Nobody places value on their time. He finally bought the thing and announced it to the bay the next day. Absentmindedly, I asked what kind... D'oh! Nine hours later I could have reverse engineered a schematic of the motherboard based on what this guy told us.

    • Re:PC specs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by coyote_oww (749758)
      Amen. Amen. Amen.

      My last computer purchase was a Sony Vaio, from Best Buy. I use it daily, but I don't know or care what the processor speed is - 2Ghz+, I think. But I just don't care anymore.

      I make $65K per year, I'm single. I owe the bank $100K for the house, no car loan, no credit card debt. I no expensive vices. Money is not really a problem for me - I have enough for the things I want to do.

      What I don't have enough of is time. I'm not going to waste it dealing with buggy hand built comput

    • Re:PC specs (Score:2, Interesting)

      by crabpeople (720852)
      "Not that I don't look at specs when I buy a computer, but I have learned never to ask about anyone else's new computer because you get the five minute laundry list of numbers that have no real importance."

      wow. i would love to have serious technical conversations about PC's where i work. Debating nvidia vs ati and their deviance of 3FPS or sata vs SCSI. that would be sweet. What do I get when I ask people at work about their PC?

      "Oh its black and shiney. it has the internet and a picture of a kitten on th
  • by Euphonious Coward (189818) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:26PM (#11248148)
    I have a simple rule: never touch a book whose title is a full sentence.

    It's not obvious why it works so well. My working hypothesis is this: The writer had a message so important that even people who don't touch the book should get it. Where to put it? Cram it into the title. The problem is, if it fits in the title, it doesn't need a book, does it? Furthermore, anybody who's that sure his idea is so important is probably wrong about a lot else. Even if the book says more than the title, we have been given a good reason to distrust it before we open it.
  • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:30PM (#11248186) Homepage
    As someone in marketing/advertising, I have to agree that I have seen few areas as hyped up as the tech industry in terms of their marketing.

    Frankly, its disgusting at times because they hurt the credibility of the entire industry (not that we had much with the /. crowd to begin with).

    I try to do my part by not misleading people with what I market as I understand that an informed customer that you treat with respect will be a repeat customer who will spread the good word about you. I also inform people of when deceptive marketing/advertising is used and explain why it is bad and meaningless.

    I think all of you are familiar with such lies as the "industry leader" claim or the "does more" claim. To those I have to ask "industry leader according to whom? The CEO fo the company? Because legally as long as you have the quote from someone, you are allowed to make that claim", and then I ask "does more? Does more WHAT?! Oh wait, legally that doesn't matter as long as you don't state it. It could ben "does more to line the CEOs wallets" and it would still be legal."

  • Has anyone ever read eWeek? Each article is Microsoft marketing mumbo jumbo with high-level words and makes me wonder "wtf are they talking about?". I don't see any IT manager or company executive talk like that. Btw, eWeek is sponsered by Microsoft, just look at the ads every 2nd page.
  • By adding a dubious, four year old dig at MS to the post, they manage to get the reviewer's actual comments ignored in favor of yet another M$ sux thread.
    Good going guys!
  • Snake oil sales (Score:4, Interesting)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Monday January 03, 2005 @06:04PM (#11248466)

    Hence grandmas in Best Buy staring at the computer described as "P4 3.0 GHz 256 DDR 40.0 GB DVD/CD-RW" when all she wants to know is whether she can check email and view photos of the grandkids. Marketers forget to empathize with the customers.

    Tactics like this and others go back as far as I can remember. The only difference in the .com/2000 bubble was that a large group of business people believed it and spent billions on vaporware promises of profits with no fundamentally sound reason. I guess they don't teach MBAs how to calculate profits and do basic business marketing analysis first.

    Grandma's in the mean time are looking at sub $500 solutions that does not require the maintenance of Microsoft Windows and with players like SAM's club are now selling alternatives. The real big kick will come from the Chinese as "toaster like" computers come in even cheaper and more reliable.

    A very large part of this is due to businesses laying off the older experienced types and promoting those well past their level of experience and capability. We often think this is just a problem in I/T, but in actuality it is a problem in business in general as it is out with the baby boomer and in with the "never had to really work hard for a buck" generation.

    This industry of computing is going to continue to evolve, it happened before with IBM and mainframes, now defunct Digital VAX, commodore PET, TRS-80, Apple, Apple II, Mac then PC. Next will be the standards based and open appliance.

  • Unplug 'N' Prey (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ranger (1783) on Monday January 03, 2005 @06:07PM (#11248489) Homepage
    No one quite knows the exact point when high-tech marketing went wrong.

    I do. About two seconds after the words 'high-tech' and 'marketing' were merged in the acorn sized brain of a marketer. Due to their limited storage capacity any relevant technical information was squeezed out and replaced with marketing slogans. He/She/It thus completely divorced from reality was provided with the ability to create a marketing strategy unecumbered by facts.
    • Insightful? What insight am I supposed to glean from this post, that the poster really hates marketing people? I don't get what the moderator is trying to tell me...
  • by max born (739948) on Monday January 03, 2005 @06:09PM (#11248523)

    It's the next generation fully intergrated high tech state of the art advanced enterprise object commerce cyber solution, revolutionizing cross section functionality and empowering eBusiness to streamline its communications architecture across multiple platform independent management systems, thus enabling a complete competetive cutting edge on demand information infrastructure.

    Now, what don't you understand?
  • No one quite knows the exact point when high-tech marketing went wrong. When instead of selling distinct products and services, the company Web sites and brochures started pitching 'the next big thing.'

    Here's a challenge. Point out any time when the high-tech industry was different in a qualitative way than it is now. I'm not going to slam the marketing industry here, but I think what you see is a natural outcome of several synergistic factors: 1) marketing doesn't understand what they are marketing, 2)

  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:37PM (#11249514) Homepage Journal
    Products that don't work
    Service providers that can't make it work
    Customers that don't care if it does
    Executives that don't know IF it does
    Solutions in search of problem that doesn't exist

    Designed to fail, working as designed.
  • Two computers. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jafac (1449) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:39PM (#11249525) Homepage
    There are two kinds of people in the Computer Industry.

    1. People who see computers as neat and useful tools, which can be adapted for nearly any purpose. Software or Products which give people additional ways to use their computers - especially tools that improve productivity, either personal, or at work, are generally going to succeed in the market place. The way to sell such products is often referred to as "Pull" Marketing.

    2. People who see computers as neat and useful ways of getting consumers to spend money on stuff they wouldn't have otherwise spent it. This is accomplished by pushing crippleware that looks neat on the surface, but is essentially useless to a user until they pay more money to unlock the useful features, or basically, the software ends up being a complicated scam to get someone to sign up for some service with a monthly fee.
    These products ultimately fail. This kind of marketing is referred to as "PUSH" Marketing.

    At the end of the day, #1 is the correct way of looking at computers, and there are a couple of tennants of business and innovation that prove it:

    "Built it, and they will come."
    and
    "Invent a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door."

    Unfortunately, High Tech Marketing is full of people who want the world to beat a path to their door, without all that costly and complicated mousetrap-inventing stuff.
    They spend so much effort trying to find innovative ways to get people to spend more money, rather than innovated ways to make computers more useful tools for people to buy, because their lives are improved.
  • G5, 64 bits, twice as many as 32 (what else do you need to know?), does digital pictures, email, video, etc. You're surfing the Internet within 5 minutes of unpacking the damn thing.
  • Of course it's not about the technology, the product, or anything tangible. The tech boom was not driven by technologists, but by investment bankers. And what's their product? An investment/gambling vehicle -- stock!

    Notice how many companies morphed and remorphed as the "technology" changed. This was not because of changing technology or changing demand for actual products. It's because they were always trying to convince their shareholders, or potential shareholders, that their stock would be the one

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