May 022004

Well, it was bound to happen. I’m surprised it’s taken this long, actually: internal “concern” over information disclosed in this blog. My previous post seems to have ruffled a few feathers of folks who aren’t used to Borland talking about engineering research well in advance of delivery, if it pans out for delivery at all.

The funny thing is that it’s not the research info that’s got the knickers in a knot – it’s the fact that a specific product version number was indicated. The argument is that if customers begin thinking in terms of a future product release, they may defer purchasing the current product. Therefore, blogs will lead to Borland’s bankruptcy.

So, let me be clear: research and product ideas mentioned here are generally long-term in nature and should not be construed as a commitment to deliver features in a particular product release or in a particular time frame. In most cases, if Borland R&D is “investigating” technology ideas, that means you won’t see it in product for a year or more. Big items need more time to cook in the labs than a single product cycle, because typically only 4 months of a 12 month product cycle are open for “interesting” R&D work. Anything investigations longer than that have to be done in parallel to current product development, either just in the engineer’s heads or more formally in a side branch of the source tree.

I was hoping to start discussing extra long-term ideas that would be a minimum of two major release out (similar to Microsoft’s discussions of Longhorn trials and tribulations), but not if it will lead to another blipverts incident.

I can appreciate concern about distracting the customer away from what’s currently available for sale. There’s even a Dilbert cartoon on the subject (can’t put my finger on it at the moment). But to limit a discussion about what Borland is thinking about to events of two years ago that led up to the current product is an absurd waste of time.

When it comes to long-term planning and roadmaps, I find this view perplexing, and frustrating. It basically says “Future product information creates confusion in the customer.” While I can partially accept that on the basis of “too many options creates confusion”, the contrapositive (logical inversion) is even more bizarre: “Lack of future direction makes selling product easier.”

Really? If familiarity breeds contempt, then obscurity drives sales? Are you really more likely to buy the current product in the absence of future direction info, or are you more likely sit on your hands and buy nothing now because you believe the next release will really be the one to solve all your problems? Think about your response carefully, because there are market precedents that indicate the latter is not so unlikely as it sounds.

Debate and discuss, in 100 words or less. Ready, go.

p.s. The internal “concern” has been diffused in email. No worries, mate. Just don’t be surprised if I use more hyperbole reminiscent of certain Harry Potter characters…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.