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Repositioning of, 124 Paradox for Windows, 126, 130 initial reaction to, 131 object-oriented nature of, 131 PARC, 277 PBM, 54 PC compatible, 34 PC DOS, 30 PC Junior appearance of, 45 chiclet keyboard of, 46 expansion of, 45 PC Week Microsoft article and, 195 Peanut, 43 speculation on, 43 Pearl Harbor Day Manifesto, 199 Pentium math problems of, 146 unconditional recall of, 153 Pentium lookup tables, 146 PeopleSoft, 85 Peterson, Pete, 182 Pickles and Trout, 21 Pillsbury Doughboy, 308 Positioning...

An Interview with Joel Spolsky

SoftwareMarketSolution Joel, what, in your opinion, is the single greatest development sin a software company can commit Joel Spolsky Deciding to completely rewrite your product from scratch, on the theory that all your code is messy and bug-prone and is bloated and needs to be completely rethought and rebuilt from ground zero. JS Because it's almost never true. It's not like code rusts if it's not used. The idea that new code is better than old is patently absurd. Old code has been used. It...

An Offer You Cant Refuse

Nonetheless, Microsoft, intent on its mission to destroy Netscape, rolled out across the industry with all the subtlety and attendant goodwill of Germany invading Poland. The first thing the company did after building IE was bundle it with the OEM version of Windows 95 and announce it was free. To be fair, this wasn't as aggressive a move as it appeared. Though the Netscape browsers (first Navigator and later Communicator) did have a theoretical SRP of 49.95, they were released on a trialware...

Magic Carpet Ride

The book that best describes the late 20th century's dot-com bubble was written in the 19th century by Charles MacKay, thought by many to be the Nostradamus of marketing. MacKay's opus is entitled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds2 and it chronicles a long series of manias and speculative booms that have afflicted Western society since the Crusades. Reading through this classic treatise, you can find descriptions of events and circumstances that both presage and prophesy...

Its Finally GNU for

But perhaps the biggest obstacle to the widespread acceptance of Stallman's credo was that although he was preaching about the glories of free software created with GNU, he hadn't actually sat down and finished the project. Stallman had built a series of software utilities that could be used to create software (an activity beloved by many coders) but had neglected, years after the proclamation of GNU, to provide the system with its key component, an operating system. Instead, it was left to a...

Building the Perfect Bill

Three major components have gone into the building of Bill Gates's public persona dress, demeanor, and financial humility. In terms of his personal appearance, inordinate amounts of ink have been dedicated to Bill Gates's clothing and personal appearance. He wears glasses, not contacts. His sweaters are usually described as tattered and worn. His hair is often a rat's nest and usually untidy. It used to be widely reported he didn't bathe often enough (but his wife took care of that). He tends...

We Hate You We Really Hate You Ed Esber Ashton Tate and Siebel Systems

Many people have pointed to Ed Esber's PR ineptitude as the main reason for Ashton-Tate's demise, but this is wrong. It is rare for PR disasters to destroy a company, though they can certainly hurt it and be very expensive. Ed Esber's primary mistake was in failing to understand that Ashton-Tate wasn't just selling a product it was creating an ecosystem. dBase was a platform, a basic set of tools and functions that could be adapted to create applications in a myriad of businesses. As such, its...

Death by Doppelganger Micro Pro

Rubinstein's initial goal in founding MicroPro was to develop and publish a high-end database management system DBMS designed to compete with Ashton-Tate's dBASE and similar products, but during his stint at IMSAI, he learned the CP M market needed a good programmer's text editor. Because developing one would take less time than a full-blown DBMS system and provide the company with a revenue stream until the database product was ready, Rubinstein hired Rob Barnaby, a top-notch assembly language...

Heart of Darkness

For no particular reason that I can remember, the topic turned to Ashton-Tate, publisher of the widely popular dBASE database program. Seymour started talking about a meeting he'd attended with other members of the press where Ed Esber, CEO of the database giant, addressed the group. As he began talking about Esber, his face suddenly developed an expression of contempt. He told us how during the speech Esber had stated at one point that he wasn't necessarily the smartest guy in software....

The Sins of Branding

But even those who have learned that a brand is a symbol often fall into error by failing to understand that a brand can arise from only two sources. The first is as a result of product success. Most brand identities spring from this source. For example, Proctor amp Gamble transformed Crest from just another contender to America's leading toothpaste for decades after persuading the American Dental Association that Crest really did help prevent cavities. For a time, Crest was the only toothpaste...

Introduction

Rainer Poertner Syncronys

In 1982, Harper amp Row published In Search of Excellence Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. In Search of Excellence quickly became a seminal work in the category of business management books and made its authors millionaires. Although it's no longer the literary obsession of freshly minted MBAs that it was in the 1980s, the book's distribution and influence have proved long lasting and pervasive. After its introduction, the book stayed on...

Fabulous Fruit

Of all the characters waiting expectantly for the train to pull out of the station, Apple was probably the best positioned of the early denizens of Microcomputerville to become the town's mayor. Apple's mainstay system, the Apple II, and its immediate successor, the Apple II , were triumphs of industrial design and utility. Sleek and low slung, the units provided an attractive contrast to the stark industrial designs common to business machines. The Apple was reasonably priced a fully...

The Fall of the Barbarian Empire

Faced with both pricing and feature disadvantages, sales of Quattro, as well as WordPerfect, 1-2-3, and others, began to sag. Shocked out of his civilized demeanor, Kahn fell back on barbarian tactics. Borland launched an inept series of promotions designed to stop erosion in Quattro sales. The company accomplished the exact opposite instead, destroying the product's credibility. The first disaster was the Quattro WinDOS bundle. The promotion was Kahn's idea, and he insisted on its execution...

Gates at the Barbarian

While Philippe Kahn was being ravished by the object-oriented light, Microsoft released its Office suite in 1991 for a retail price of 495.00 and immediately began to do serious damage to its competitors in the business applications market. Microsoft Office was not so much a well-thought-out strategy as it was an attempt by Microsoft to punish Borland for all those competitive upgrade promotions the company was constantly launching at its software rivals. When the suite was first introduced,...

Who Killed OS2

Yet, despite IBM's record of stunning marketing and sales incompetence, OS 2 refused to die. Work continued on the product despite the Microsoft tsunami, and in 1992 IBM released OS 2 2.0. This version of the product was years ahead of Windows in terms of raw functionality, and only until the release of Windows 2000 did a comparable product exist. Unlike the 16-bit Windows and OS 2 1.x, 2.0 was a 32-bit OS that could take full advantage of the 386, 486, and Pentium processors. It sported a...

Coup de Grace

Byte Magazine Turbo Pascal Adv

In the pre-PC era, IBM's PR strategy was a conventional but effective big company approach that garnered IBM a great deal of public respect. The company invested in public charities, sponsorships of select TV and theater programs, advertising, and the usual editorial placements in a wide variety of publications to build and maintain its public image. Its approach was held up as a model of effective PR and marketing communications. However, as was true of most IBM marketing programs, its PR...

Preface

Tylenol Marketing Failures 1960s

In the first edition of In Search of Stupidity Over 20 Years of HighTech Marketing Disasters, I made a deliberate decision to avoid giving specific advice about how companies could avoid being stupid. At the time, I thought the process was fairly obvious study the mistakes of the past, apply self-observation to your current behavior, and if you see yourself repeating a previous example of idiocy, stop and do something else. As I point out in Chapter 1, the claim that high-tech companies are...

The Great Pentium Bunny Roast Intel Inside

In this environment, semiconductor giant Intel spotted an opportunity. Earlier in its history, the company had launched a marketing campaign aimed at IT types that was designed to convince them they should be concerned about whether their computers were built around Intel's 386 processor. The program had been fairly successful, and now Intel believed it was time to be more ambitious and make Intel a household name. Though people increasingly cared less about what company manufactured their PC,...

Reluctant Ahab

As with the IBM PC, many myths surround the rise of Microsoft to high tech's position of paramount leader. The seminal myth hearkens back to the company's anointment as the supplier of the OS for the PC, the single greatest coup in the history of business. The popular story backed up by such sources as The Pirates of Silicon Valley, an interesting and well-acted film that does a complete disservice to the cause of truth is that IBM intended to use Digital Research's buff new 16-bit operating...