is Vaporware that's Not Fully Available Today
had dreams of the day when it would all finally level off, when these people
would stop all that terrible Research & Development, close those awful
labs, so we could all catch our breath for a while.
now - who could accurately plan farther than five years out in these times?
we imagine what form the computing world will be in by then, with yet more
quantum leaps in processing and other new powers just around the corner?
The idea of
our computer news digest was nixed before it ever mailed, by the managers
of the backer's chain of computer stores. Turns out they really didn't
want the people to hear about everything that was available, or what some
stuck-up reviewer thought was the best product for the money - unless they
happened to carry it. This could mean a lot of one-off's, with all the
paperwork and contacts for a single order at a small profit.
the customer focused on the stuff already on their shelves.
In a more narrowly
defined way, they were thinking the same way he was - focus on what's available.
So, be an educated
consumer, and put your main forces squarely behind what's proven and working
you can rely on just one company for service
and support of your multivendor systems,
with the expertise, partners, and resources to keep it all working together.
Wood back at the Camp
Back in the booming technology days
of the 80's, so very long ago, we worked on a project that was to be a
kind of Reader's Digest for computerists. The brainchild of the owner of
a string of computer stores in Florida, the idea was to print a bi-weekly
summary of all the articles and reviews related to personal computers.
We summarized the flood by reading
through every single article in every one of the major PC-related monthlies
and weeklies, Datamation, PC Magazine, PC Week, PC World, InfoWorld, ComputerWorld,
and more. It was a mad, mad world for a while, there, with nights of dreams
with column inches endlessly unrolling, loudly demanding to be read.
The entrepreneur behind this, a fellow
named Dick Evans, had one telling insight in particular on how to pare
down what was, even then, an overwhelming flood of information. This was
to only report on shipping products - no announcements. You might
recall that the term "vaporware" was coined during this era.
That term referred to products that
may or may not ever actually become available (although they still all
managed to claim that they "revolutionized the industry!"). But
even a product that will be delivered as promised, with most of the bells
and whistles, and more or less debugged - in six months (a few months after
the announced ship date), can't process any orders or communications for
Put another way - for all
practical purposes, everything is vaporware that's not fully available
The word 'fully' is key here - it stands
for shipping in volume, fully debugged (as much as complex software and
systems can ever really be), fully supported by installation, training,
repair, networking standards, and so on.
Fully supported by general industry
recognition and acceptance, too, while we're at it; which leads to wide
availability of the support described above. Field proven - only those
products that catch on and build a base of supporters for themselves will
still be around a few years down the road, and thus worth all the effort.
And, while we're at it - backed up
by a company that will still be fully in business, cranking out reliable
solutions, during those few years down the road.
It goes without saying ( - well,
it almost did - ) that a company needs to put some resources into staying
current with developments likely to become significant in the next six
months, year, two years, and five. It's just an investment you've got to
make if you want to play in the professional leagues.
Those nasty old 'paradigm shifts'
keep coming, dictating new standards, like the way computer superstores
soon inclined that small-store owner to move into corporate sales and close
retail storefronts. Long range investments always require peering far ahead,
which always involves a lot of educated guesses. Still, there's no way
around the need to get that education - so you learn how to guess convincingly.
Your 'new technology' people should
be like a guerilla outfit, a small advance scouting squad that sends reports
back to the camp. But almost everybody else has to be back at the camp,
cooking the food and chopping the wood that'll keep them warm for the night.
Having said all that, Speaking
Internet is about a technology just being released for public
testing, DIGITAL's Millicent system for micro-commerce, as we discussed
here last week.
Works, meanwhile, tells the story of a Web graphic and design
shop, out in the cornfields of southern Indiana, U.S.A. Animation House
does computer graphic sequences for Hollywood, and contributes to our Web
site. The President said they were in business doing, making do; "then
we got Alpha workstations, and we started making money." (Fast machines
are not about prestige.)
has the story of the new filtering capability of AltaVista Search, with
Net Shepherd, Inc., allowing parents to limit what their kids can fetch
out of the deep, dark pools of the Internet.
As always, the Visionary
Club is going deep with free trials and great offers, and
News Network keeps you up-to-date in a networked world.
(And keep an eye out for
some fun and informative new features, coming soon to this screen.)
go on, we'll be publishing a selection of the letters we receive.
- No, they don't capitalize their middle initial; must be the only ones
in the world)