How not to win or influence customers

Or how Creative might have nailed it’s own coffin shut. Or at least drove one of the last nails.

In what’s a sadly typical corporate move, Creative seems to have decided that their customers needed to buy a new sound card for use in Microsoft Vista machines vs simply updating the existing drivers.

Ok that alone, I don’t think is the worst thing ever. Hell Apple does it all time, and look how many people love ’em. What makes this situation different is Creative’s response.

One of their customers, ‘daniel_k’, wrote the drivers on his own time to help out. In response to his selfless efforts, Creative had this to say: “By enabling our technology and IP to run on sound cards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are in effect, stealing our goods,” That from Creative Labs’ Phil O’Shaughnessy in the Creative Forums.

So rather than say nothing at all, which is probably the path Creative should have taken, they not only said that they chose to essentially screw their customers, but then went on to say that an enterprising customer that solved the problem with a hack was a thief.

“If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make.”

So what’s going to happen next? Well, in all likelihood, Creative will lose a good number of it’s customers. The Hack is still out there, so there will be a large percentage of users who will not be upgrading.

If Creative had done nothing, the hack would remain on the fringe. Sure, thousands would use it, but only those brave enough to use hacked drivers. Most would have just upgrade to the new card, simply because it was the path of least resistance.

Phil’s move has single handedly cost Creative more sales than ‘daniel_k’s handiwork.

So why are we talking about hardware on this blog?

Other than it being a completely anti cluetrain thing to do, which goes against everything Tom and I stand for, but it’s just damn shady! I mean really Creative! You can’t come up with a valid reason for users to upgrade their hardware? You can’t offer a better product? All you can do is cripple existing products to drive sales of new ones? Really? That’s a truly great business plan. Good luck with it.