For what seems like eons, many software companies have followed a common practice of announcing products or services that are not yet ready for the market in the hope of creating buzz for the company and or to secure a space for their product in the marketplace. These products are called vaporware.
Last week Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang discussed this growing trend in the social media space in his Web-Strategy blog and warned, “As a response, I’m going to start calling out vendors that do that. Why? it protects buyers from getting caught up in the hype of an announcement, flashy videos, and buzzword industry-changing definitions. I fill the space with enough buzzwords myself, there really isn’t any room left for vendors.”
In the past, before the Internet was alive with bloggers, the most a company risked in announcing vaporware was being ignored by the technology press. The technology press realizes an announcement without an analyst and a customer describing the benefits was at best premature. But today, one of the worst things that can happen to a young company is to launch a product that does not exist and get called out on it. You not only risk alienating the reporter or blogger but everyone that does a search on you and your product.
Owyang provided his requirements for vendors as they launch, “On day of announcement they should be able to show a demo of their product. If it’s an enterprise product, or complicated, then show a video with it working. Consider using a customer reference or a test case to demonstrate how it’s been working in the past. I like what John Furrier said, that sometimes products are still getting the bugs worked out and that’s fine –but in any case, show that the product exists.”
I believe these guidelines could help establish creditability for any vendor launching a real product. What do you think?