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The Icon Bar: News and features: MicroDigital at Expo, part 2
 

MicroDigital at Expo, part 2

Posted by F. Antonides on 01:00, 27/6/2003 | , , ,
 
Omega

Promises

Then someone from a company stood up and said he had discussed the shipment of a number of Omegas with David Atkins himself, and he had mentioned a shipping date that would meet his company's needs at an appropriate time. The shipping date exceeded the time mentioned by DA and caused a range of problems for the company involved. He then stated that no company, no matter how limited its scale, (his was a small company as well), could afford to give a date and not deliver the product as expected without damaging themselves. DA agreed that he had spoken to the potential customer in a phone call and had given information to the best of his abilities to mark a date of shipping and that they surely expected to deliver those Omega on time (small delays for delivering parts were taken into account then). But as a small company they couldn't force big companies to deliver on time. And as a result the ordered items exceeded the normal delivery dates and after much phone calls they got finally their parts. As one might expect, this delayed the date of delivery. The person who held MD responsible for the delays then argued that they should have mentioned that the delivering dates weren't for sure. Even a small company couldn't be excused for these kind of delays. DA said in return that they had to built the computer from scratch with nothing at all on the table and they were very dependent on third parties to deliver on time and with the right parts, but unfortunately they didn't seem to care. And when he gave any delivery dates it was to the best with his ability. One should take into consideration that the product was still in development and not a finished one, which meant there was always uncertainty involved. And if anyone had doubts that potential problems could delay the delivery dates of the computers ordered, then they should have looked to an alternative as well, because the dates stated were only if third parties managed to deliver in time.
 
These were the facts said DA, and should MD be held responsible for it? They would like to force the companies to deliver in time but they are too small to put big companies under pressure to get their parts in time. The company manager in the audience did not seem pleased with the answer at all and the discussion went on for a while, with the arguments repeating and other people in the audience joining in. DA could not continue his talk due to people who just wouldn't let go on the issue of promises. So another man, in an attempt to finally put this issue to an end, tried to summarise the expectations of former speakers that it was not so much the dates, but never give people false expectations about delivering dates if they aren't absolutely certain. DA reacted that in the past development was scheduled and expectations were based upon these, but much went wrong and dates had to be corrected over and over again. They have learnt from this, and made sure that the Alpha was not pre-announced. They had chosen to show it working at the Wakefield show. So they had now taken the approach not to pre-announce any development but rather wait and present a working product. The argument of promises and missed shipping dates continued for a while but by this time the main points seemed clear.
 
Then the technician who had spoken earlier said that he would like to hear some news over developments for the time ahead. He could not be understood at first, so he was asked to come forward to make his point clear. When everyone understood him, most people showed their approval as everyone liked to hear about new developments and hear from the inside about the different issues involved.

Microdigital

The web site

DA continued by talking about the content of MD's web site. The site was undergoing some changes. They had withdrawn their Newsdesk section because they didn#t want to fuel a storm of criticism by providing information that could motivate the critics to argue and speculate wrongly about technical details. One person in the audience remarked that MD could also benefit from the press. However, DA seemed to be very disappointed with the way the press had handled their responsibilites and said that MD had "just had it with the press". He rather liked a more direct approach with his audience where he found himself speaking more freely about items of interest.
 
Then a man, whom I later discovered was Paul Beverley from Archive, asked from somewhere at the back of the room "Do you want me to leave again?" A somewhat annoyed DA waited a moment and said rather determined "Yes, please!" So Paul Beverley left the presentation room. DA would go on about the withdrawal of the Newsdesk from their website, while the person who had questioned the delivery dates also left the room. A moment later he was followed by a few more people. Perhaps some of them were losing their patience as the issue of delivery dates was taking up too much time and the presentation had moved far from the subjects which really were of interest. DA tried to finish the website issue by explaining that MD would like to reserve their news for the actual Alpha and Omega customers. They were investigated this possibility and were probably willing to get this link available for customers.

Newsdesk

Wrapping up

Aad Bezemer (one of the organizers of the Expo 2003) had to end this meeting as the time was up, and said that no one was forced to stay with a particular system, because everyone was free to choose an alternative if things were not satisfactory. This was now possible even in the RISC OS world. But he was glad that some of MD's machines had been delivered and was also very pleased with the free and open debate. DA fully agreed with this and confirmed that he liked this kind of open debate and discussion, where critics could give their arguments to the company responsible, and he was glad he could give an explanation and provide some understanding of the things discussed. Of course he could be approached the whole day by people attending the Expo show and would answer their questions to the best of his ability. After all he was responding, even when confronted with criticism and anger, and would willingly explain everything had happened. He was convinced this would be the way ahead when real problems had to be solved. Solving sincere difficulties would take things forward, whereas holding back couldn't benefit development. In particular the debate was a free, fair and ordered way to move on because it opened the way to look for improvements. Aad thanked David for his presentation and the audience applauded.

David Atkins

In summary

DA was convinced that the machine was a magnificent piece of hardware to be proud of and filled a gap in the needs of the RISC OS environment. MD was determined to go further in their approach and there should be no doubt that they would meet the expectations of their customers. They criticized the press about their negative approach towards the product and the lack of the ability in seeing the technical possibilities. DA acknowledged that they had underestimated the development time of the Omega and that they were too optimistic about shipping dates. Much had gone wrong and also third parties weren't delivering, as could be expected. As a result they rather would release a product instead of announcing it. This was the case when their portable (Alpha) was presented at Wakefield. They would like to present a Newsdesk that was only accessible by the actual Alpha and Omega customers.


In my view...

I had expected a well prepared presentation with a brief history about the development of the Omega and perhaps the Alpha (as the latter turned out to be the first to arrive in quantity). It should have clear demonstrated how the product had been developed up till now and provided an inside view of the problems which they had to overcome to reach the end product. I was also interested in the current state of developments the priorities for the time being. I was keen to hear something about the market and its development as I am myself the owner of an Omega.
 
At first I thought the presentation was worthwhile, but when one person from the audience started an argument, which seemed to me a rather personal conflict about meeting their delivering dates, I lost my interest. In particular when DA said that they would rather present new products then announce them, and that they did not talk to the press anymore. In my view that meant that we couldn't be told anything new in this setting. Some time ago it was argued that advertising was not the right approach in a market which was relatively small, so I can't understand why the press can't be involved in presenting these products to the public. If the press isn't capable to report on a product then 'Newsdesk' could probably fill that gap. In that case they themselves can explain the product with the care and accuracy they demand and therefore keep control.
 
It was nice to hear David Atkins again but when he presented the Omega a few years ago he did truly a great job by hyping a market in decline and showing initiative and ambition. At that time the Omega was far from arriving, while now it's finally available (although not all the functionality is present yet). This presentation was snappy, and with not much technical interest and few promising new developments being presented. It was more or less, boring, although the few interesting points made listening to it worthwhile.
 
I hope that the next presentation would be better prepared with some attention paid to new developments and priorities and maybe an overview of the development history. A slideshow driven by an Alpha or Omega should in this case be a better way to present the products that, according to the conviction that MD preacehs, should be used by everyone. I hope that all the RISC OS computers will succeed in taking their share of the market because I appreciate RISC OS, and I hope it's here to stay.

Microdigital

 

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The Icon Bar: News and features: MicroDigital at Expo, part 2