Shallow Thoughts : tags : marketing

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 02 Jul 2008

Not a combination I'd think of

There's a store down the road from me that offers an unusual combination of items. It always makes me stop and wonder when I pass by.


It must be my naivety and lack of marketing accumen, but it never would have occurred to me that cigarettes and pure water were two products that ought to be sold side by side.

The most amazing part is that another store just a few blocks away has started offering the same combination! (Though their sign is much less striking.)

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[ 22:56 Jul 02, 2008    More humor | permalink to this entry ]

Tue, 08 Feb 2005

Nonworking Novel Ad Redux

Turns out the Novell Ad requires flash 7, and just runs partially (but with no errors explaining the problem) with flash 6. About 2/3 of the linux users I polled on #linuxchix had the same problem as I did (still on flash 6).

I installed flash 7.0r25, and now I get video and sound (albeit with the usual flash "way out of sync" problem), but mozilla 1.8a6 crashes when leaving the page (I filed a talkback report).

Still not a great face to show migrating customers. Oh, well, maybe it works better on Novell Linux ...

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[ 17:33 Feb 08, 2005    More linux | permalink to this entry ]

Novell Can't Manage a "Migrate to Linux" Page That Works In Linux?

Someone on IRC posted a link to a Novell ad trying to persuade people to migrate from Windows to Linux.

It's flash, so I saw the flash click-to-view button. I clicked it, and something downloaded and showed play controls (a percent-done slider and a pause button). The controls respond, but no video ever appears.

Thinking maybe it was a problem with click-to-view, I tried it in my debug profile, with mostly default settings. No dice: even without click-to-view, the page just plain doesn't work in Linux Mozilla. Didn't work in Firefox either (though I don't have a Firefox profile without click-to-view, admittedly). People on Windows and Mac report that it works on those platforms.

I thought to myself, Novell is trying to be pro-Linux, they'll probably want to know about this. So I went up one level to try to find a contact address (there isn't one on the migration page). I didn't find any email addresses but I did find a feedback link, so I clicked it. It popped up an empty window, which sat empty for a minute or two, then filled with "Novell Account: Mal-formed reply from origin s". Any text which might follow that is cut off, doesn't fit in the window size they specified.

What does Novell expect customers to think when they migrate one machine to Linux, start using it to surf the web, and discover that they can't even read Novell's own pro-Linux pages from Linux? What sort of impression is that going to make on someone considering migrating a whole shop?

Fortunately sites like Novell's which don't work in Linux and Mozilla are the exception, not the rule. I can surf most of the web just fine; it's only a few bad apples who can't manage to write cross-platform web pages. But someone early in the migration process doesn't know that. They're more likely to just stop right there.

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[ 11:30 Feb 08, 2005    More linux | permalink to this entry ]

Sat, 18 Sep 2004

HP Linux Laptop mislead, part Deux

Amazing! HP finally updated their web site and made it possible to buy the SuSE Linux laptop that they've been claiming to have since early August. Only took a month and a half.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed that you have to buy the high-end version of the laptop (over $1500) to get the Linux option, and it's only $20 less than the comparable Windows version, even though all their press releases last month said it would be under $1100 and significantly (like $50) cheaper than the Windows version?

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[ 22:13 Sep 18, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

James Todd, Sun, and Linux

A Sun employee named James Todd has been posting paeans to Sun and their Linux support on the svlug list (the thread). I don't intend to follow up to that thread, because I expect after 18 messages in four days (including 9 from jwtodd spanning over 800 lines) I expect most folks on the list would prefer to move on to other topics.

James attacks me repeatedly for my earlier blog entry wherein I say that the machines I saw in the Sun booth were all running Windows. He says he worked in the booth, and there were no Windows machines there.

If that's true, then that's terrific! I'm very happy to hear that all the machines I saw with "Start" menus and Redmond-looking icons and themes were actually just a theme Sun puts on their Linux (or Solaris?) desktop boxes. I don't know why Sun feels it necessary to make Linux look just like Windows -- maybe that's part of their theory that you don't need to know what OS you're on (which is really quite a good idea for corporate installations, and reportedly is working quite well internally at Sun). Perhaps they further assume that if they make the non-Windows installations look like Windows, people will be more accepting of the idea. I'm not sure this part is a good idea -- wouldn't it be better if the theme sent the message "Sun" rather than "Windows", so customers don't get the idea that they can just zip off to Dell or somewhere and buy cheaper machines that will do the same thing? Wouldn't it be better marketing at a show like Linux World to show off a theme that didn't look like Windows?

But that's all marketing. If the machines were in fact running Linux and Solaris, I'm happy to hear that I was wrong. Time will tell whether the Windows-like theme is the choice, and whether Sun sticks with Linux in the long run. Of course I hope they do, and that they succeed in selling linux boxes to corporate customers, and that the recent settlement agreement with Microsoft does not herald a withdrawal from open source, as it has with some other companies.

(Whether Sun has helped open source is not at issue, and never was part of this debate, as far as I know. They've already contributed quite a bit, with the Open Office project, and with contributions to Gnome and Mozilla accessibility and internationalization.)

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[ 13:29 Aug 10, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]

Wed, 04 Aug 2004

False Promises: Another HP Marketing Ploy

The SF Chronicle this morning had a little note headlined, "HP first to introduce Linux-based laptop".

Aside from the obvious error in "first" (the article itself admits that several smaller manufacturers have been selling linux laptops for quite some time), I wondered if this was real, or just another of HP's attempts to get credit for supporting Linux without actually risking Microsoft's wrath by selling any product.

So I went to HP's web site. No mention on the top level, so I tried searching for "linux laptop" and got nothing useful. So I did some clicking around to find the particular model mentioned in the article (nx5000) and eventually found it (under business systems). That listing did indeed list SuSE as an OS option. But clicking through to buy or customize the machine took me to screens where Windows XP was the only option, and the lowest price was the Windows price (the Linux price is supposed to be $60 lower).

Later, it occurred to me that HP calls them "notebooks" rather than "laptops", so I went back and searched for "linux notebook". This gave several false hits, including a page on "Linux solutions from HP" with a link to "Products", which eventually leads me to a page where they're apparently offering drivers, but no hardware. An excellent example of Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox topic this week, "Deceivingly Strong Information Scent Costs Sales".

The search also led me to a press release which was obviously the basis for the Chron article, and a generic "Business Products" page that looks like one I probably already went through in my search earlier today that led to screens offering only Windows XP.

I can only conclude that this is another fakie HP marketing ploy to claim to be supporting linux, while having no intention of actually offering it. Mark my words, in a few months HP will announce that it's no longer offering this option because strangely, customers didn't buy very many of them. (HP has pulled this prank three or four times before, with desktop machines.)

I very much hope HP proves me wrong this time, and updates its sales pages to offer the OS option its press release is claiming.

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[ 18:40 Aug 04, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]