Re: White Pine Support

Andrew Clarke (andrew@plinth.demon.co.uk)
Sun, 26 Oct 1997 00:09:58 BST


** Reply to note from CU-SEEME-L@cornell.edu Sat, 25 Oct 1997 00:08:42 EDT

[Jason Williams and Gary Deitz said in part:]

> Jason said:
>
> >isn't out to market CU-SeeMe to current users of the program but to new
> >users who are on higher speed lines. While White Pine may listen to the
> >current userbase, they continue developing the program for corporate
> >users. It then turns to money since corporate users have the bandwidth
> >(either on a LAN, or high speed internet connection) and the money for it.
> >It just seems to me White Pine has shifted from the home users who built
> >up White Pine (for the means of getting color support primarily) to the
> >corporate users to sustain their position.
>
> Gary replies:
>
> This is not correct, not at all Jason. Not at all. We are not abandoning
> any user group. But even if you *were* correct, would it be *wrong* for a
> *publicly traded company* to try and make money in the richest possible
> markets?
>
> We are aiming at different markets than the past. But, as the market
> changes, so must we. If we were "JasonCo" and we continued to target the
> same market as the past two years, we'd be out of business quickly (but
> have a year or two of very happy customers who paid nothing).

For once I agree with Gary (a first! :), Jason and I are supporters of the free
software ethos (and I presume the 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' ethos too).
The *only* reason I use CU 2.1.x is because of the colour support, and 3.x simply
has nothing that remotely interests me enough to put up with it. There are several
people I know of who are investigating the creation of a colour-capable CU client
that will meet the needs of those of us who aren't interested in the direction WP
is taking CU. More on this later.


> Jason said:
>
> >If you could stick some of 3.X's improvements onto the
> >interface of 2.1.1/2.1.1, you'd make a LOT of people happy.
>
> Gary replies:
>
> My Mom is way happier with 3.1 then 2.11.
>
> Here's some very conservative numbers, highly debatable, but I hope you get
> my point:
>
> a. Jason Williamses of the world = ~2,000,000 (high, educated guess)
> b. Jason Williamses of the world on the net = .5*(a)
> c. Jason Williamses of the world on the net who will pay for CU-SeeMe =
> .2*(b)
>
> d. Moms of the world, US market = ~40,000,000 (guess)
> e. Moms of the world on the net, work or home = .05*(d)
> f. Moms of the world on the net, willing to pay for CU-SeeMe and Reflecor
> services
> if marketed the correct way = .5*(e)
>
> This is just one comparison, it may not be very close, but you get the idea.

Figure (b) is directly effected by 'our' (the CU old timers') opinion of 3.x. My
opinion is that 3.x is still slow, is still buggy, is still damned ugly, and is
still an ergonomic mess. We 'Williamses' *don't* like the dumbed-down interface
which replaces one click with seven requiring 4 leaps of logic to achieve the same
thing. We *don't* like the SDI interface, we *don't* like the show-stopping bugs
and that *does* adversely effect our purchasing plans. It's not about us techies
not wanting to pay for things, it's about us techies not wanting to pay for things
we don't think are up to the job.

My estimate for figure (d) is an order of magnitude less than yours, and I still
don't wholly believe they think the interface is more intuative. I know your mother
does, but I've talked people new to CU through very simple tasks in 3.0 which when
they tried the same in 2.x (on my advice) they found to be much much simpler. And
I still get people asking me for locations where they can get 2.x because they
don't like 3.x; they aren't corporate users because I don't deal with corporate
users, but in the world of home users that I'm in, 2.x is still king of the hill as
far as these people are concerned (because it supports colour).

So putting the 3.x guts in a 2.x interface will generate more sales than 3.x on
it's own. As I have said in private email, making 3.x configurable enough to get
*very* close to the 2.x interface can only help because I for one will buy it, and
more importantly will start recommending others do the same (assuming of course the
bugs are taken care of).

> Jason said:
>
> >Stockholders = those with money to invest = not your average home user
> >connected up to the Internet through an ISP.
> >
> >White Pine is doing its best at expanding who can use CU-SeeMe but it
> >seems to me it's at the expense of those that have watched the CU-SeeMe
> >department at White Pine grow and expand.
>
> Gary replies:
>
> Jason has brought out the first direct curse from me. I hope this doesn't
> start a flame, but here it goes Jason... Your last statement is bullsh**

Maybe, maybe not.

> First of all, "average home users connected to the Internet though an ISP"
> are stock holders of many types of companies. Second of all, people at
> home with ISP's also have jobs, where they may decide to use technology
> from home (or vice versa). Third of all, I didn't say we were marketing to
> rich people, I said we were a public company with an obligation to make a
> profit, thus targeting most profitable areas.

To briefly go back to your 'Moms on the net' argument above; I can only speak about
the UK internet marketplace (even if we do have the largest number of internet
users per capita (from some survey I read a while ago)) but the majority of people
who are on the internet in the UK are twenty- to thirty-something men who are
computer literate. Since I run a UK reflector I meet lots of UK and European CU
users, and because we have to pay to use the phone over here we tend to be somewhat
better off than average, and I don't see that 3.x is viewed any better than I have
outlined above.

I'm currently working for a very large petrochemicals company, and they have
settled on Intel Proshare for their videoconferencing needs. If I was in the
position of selecting technology for them I could not, hand on heart, recommend a
White Pine solution; not because of the reflector software, which I like a lot, but
because of the buggy/confusing client which I would view as a technical support
problem waiting to happen. You're getting there, 3.1 Preview is faster than 3.0
and it no longer causes NT to blue screen, but it does crash with depressing
regularity (based on my experience, it would crash 10-15 times an hour) and the
user interface is still (IMHO) utterly non-intuative.

But on the bright side, it's better than NetMeeting :)

--
Andrew Clarke 
PGP Public Key available on request
"Having your nuts nibbled off by a Laplander, that's a way to die."