Friday, May 15, 2009

Enter the FUDists

The term “FUD” was not familiar to the 1394 family.  Not being experienced marketers, they were not familiar with the tricks of the trade.  Being primarily engineers, they were familiar with precise truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.   As they struggled to understand the wily ways of their adversaries, insightful phrases were coined.  “Those are just MARKETING numbers” meant “numbers which are intended to influence rather than inform.”  I.E. misrepresentations of the truth.

Even when they understood the concept of FUD (spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), they lacked the emotional make-up to execute it effectively.  A few true Marketers emerged from the group, but they were always seen as alien to the 1394 mainstream.  Not disliked but possessing a useful character flaw.  A sort of necessary evil like a bounty hunter or other mercenary.

The competition, however, excelled at FUD.  On a number of occasions, a USB operative would call the head of the 1394 marketing team at TI, asking him to meet at DFW airport.  The objective was to convince the 1394 manager that his career was going to stall since he was backing a losing technology.

All over the world, reports came in from local sales people about dirty deeds.  The sample price of prototype 1394 silicon (which was 5 times higher than production prices) was routinely quoted by USB promoters as the “price of 1394.”  Rumors of large companies dropping 1394 en masse had to be debunked.  Rumors that 1394 was in steep decline in Japan had to be researched only to find out that 1394 was still on the rise.

DVI loyalists warned A/V companies of dire consequences resulting from Hollywood lawsuits if they incorporated 1394 due to “inadequate copy protection.”

MOST automotive network supporters claimed that  1394 could not carry CD quality audio in a car despite the fact that it was being used in high end pro-audio equipment all over the world.

When the Serial Express team visited Compaq, their presentation said little more than “We will be better than 1394 so you should drop 1394 and adopt Serial Express.”  The Compaq response was “You have told me nothing useful.  Bring me better information.”  That was translated by SE into “Compaq is supporting Serial Express and eager for more information.”

Calls for striking back were rebuffed by 1394 leadership and  1394 continued on a quixotic journey, eventually finding a home in several hundred million products.  The success that 1394 has achieved is due largely to a fiercely loyal following.

Those who leave 1394 generally leave it with great regret which is hard to identify.  One of the early evangelists summed it up the best after he was redeployed from 1394 to promoting USB.  In his words “USB is all about, sit down, listen, and make some money for your employer.  1394 is all about changing the world and being a part of history.  How can you not fall in love with that?”

FireWire YouTube Videos by Jeff Cat

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