The Great Mojave Scam

Written by:  KateG • Edited by: Bill Fulks
Updated Nov 14, 2009
• Related Guides: Public Relations | Vista | Windows Vista

Want to see a multi-national company sink to new lows to promote a product? Then read on to find out about the Great Mojave Scam.

Mojave? Vista? What is it called?

When a product gets a bad reputation in the market place, especially one in the world of information technology, word spreads like wild fire in a California state forest. The sheer number of blog postings, websites and communities that sprung up to denounce Windows Vista and all it's flaws only a few days after it's release was astounding. When this happens to a product, the company has a limited number of ways to pull it's fat out of the fire, and regain both the trust of it's customers and their share of the market. You can collect customer testimonials, discount the price or give out free trials of the product. These are public relations steps that can turn a flop into a relative success. A bad way to regain the trust of your customers is to lie to them, make them suspicious of your motives and make them painfully aware of the fact that they are being targeted by a heavy duty marketing campaign.

Yet despite a multi-million (at minimum) public relations budget and hoards of professionals who are paid to help products get to market, this is exactly what Microsoft has done to it's customers in an attempt to try and promote Vista. Vista debuted to a less then warm reception and their PR mavens have been working tirelessly to amend that public impression with little success at best. This may explain the Mojave scam perpetrated on the end users. The folks at Microsoft decided that in order to change the minds of end users and make some new Vista sales they were going to give Vista a temporary name change.

You can see the logic behind the premise, may be if you remove the seemingly cursed name, users will reevaluate the product. Now that it has a service pack, they might give it another try. However, this attempt has a few snags in it that are actually contrary to the goal of this train of logic.

1. When you build trust to regain the market share of your customers, lying to them is contradictory to the goal.

2. Demonstrations done in a controlled setting tells us little to nothing about how the system will perform in the real world. We don't know how advanced the hardware is, if it is on a dedicated server or how much space has been taken up by data. All of these factors will effect how the computer runs.

3. We, do not know how it is the end users "tested" the system. Maybe they just checked their email or did some typing in an open Word document. It is unlikely that it was put to any vigorous and strenuous system testing that would give the system a run for its money.

4. We don't know if the notoriously resource consuming Aero interface was turned on during these 'user trials'.

Overall the promise would have worked a lot better if the public relations staff for Vista had chatted up the advances of the new service pack or its recent strong performance at the Penetration Testing events. In the end this type of marketing approach may impress end users who don't know that much about their systems or really didn't want to leave Windows in the first place, but without more details, the real golden goose - business users and IT departments will remain largely unconvinced.

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