Simon Says: Why I Think Vaporware Announcements are BS

Simon Dudley, Video Evangelist, LifeSize

You may have heard that one of our video conferencing competitors made quite a splash earlier this week with a series of announcements. If you weren’t able to watch and are planning to catch the recorded version, here’s a fun game you can use to occupy your time. (Next time, we will be sure to add the word, “stunning.”)

One thing that particularly captured my attention during all of the hullaballoo (ex: changing the future with history, or changing history with the future, or whatever this company put on their homepage) was the fact that almost none of the major solutions that the company announced are available today. In fact, only two are available to order. The rest of them are weeks, months or even a year down the line. Also, we don’t know how much anything costs, so how can businesses know (Fortune 100’s and SMB’s, alike) if they will want to invest in these products? This isn’t a problem with this company only (although they continue to do it time and time again), it is an industry-wide epidemic that we like to call “vaporware.” Sure, the demo looks fine but when can I order it? Even if I can order it now, when will it ship? How will it look when I get it up and running in my own environment? How much does it cost? What else I do need to run it? For the time being it’s all vapor, pure and simple.

David Maldow, an industry analyst who writes for Telepresence Options, took the words right out of my mouth in his article about the announcement where he said, “Until we get some pricing, and can do some real comparison testing of the new solutions, it is impossible to say how [this vendor’s] new offerings stand up to the competition.” I couldn’t agree more, David.

The CEO of the company was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “We intend to frankly change the face of the collaboration industry.” It’s great to intend to do something, but will you actually do it? When? Wouldn’t your slew of announcements have been stronger if you could actually say, “We’ve done it. We’ve changed the face of the collaboration industry?”

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with making strategy announcements, but I think customers would be far more impressed if they could order these “game changing” products in a few days, rather than a few months.

What are your thoughts on vaporware? Is it time for the industry to put their money where their mouth is?

- +Simon Dudley

7 Responses to “Simon Says: Why I Think Vaporware Announcements are BS”

  1. Michael Pfannenstiel

    I agree completely. I think all industries fall into this trap, how long did we hear about the Volt! However, I have tracked the VC industry industry for several years and it does seem they come out several quarters ahead of product availability. I like the apple model myself resist the temptation to make announcements until you can sell the product. At least within a month?

    Reply
  2. Bruce

    If I had a nickel for every one of these “industry changing” products that was announced, well, I’d have a really big pile of nickels.

    Reply
  3. Heath

    Could not agree more, this BS is the type of behaviour that makes it harder for all of us in the industry.

    Reply
  4. Nathan

    If you go to lifesize.com’s main page, it states “From inventing HD video conferencing to…” . If that’s not BS, I don’t know what is. :-)

    Reply
  5. Jitu

    Well said Simon. Competitor is like an automobile manufacturer showcasing their concepts in a car show. Production may or may not happen. It’s just to create a buzz.

    Reply

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