No one wants to announce vaporware. It’s an act of desperation, probably stemming from poor long-range planning. It happens in all industries, and even occasionally in politics. When a company rep is telling you about a product that is coming in the next year, it’s a good idea to be skeptical. It may never come out, or the date may slide. The motive might be for you to wait for that product or feature, instead of moving to a competitor’s product like a lot of other folks. During an industry event, you might be surprised at how much vaporware is being announced. Here are some signs that a product is vaporware:
- The details of the product have changed. You first heard it was a product that integrated with Product B, and now it integrates with Product C. Or the name of the product has changed. Red flags!
- The scope of the product has decreased over time. The first time you heard about it, the product did A, B, and C. Now you’re hearing it does A, D, and E.
- Buzzwords. Cloud computing, virtualization, business intelligence, big data, data mining, de-dupe, and 4G/5G. There is no bigger buzzword in the software industry than “the Cloud.” Ask Paul Christman what he thinks about buzzwords.
- The company is losing customers left and right to existing products that compete with this product. The company is desperate to keep you from leaving them, too. If you were the company, wouldn’t you make promises to keep the customer?
- “We’ll change your industry with this product.” Don’t believe it until this announcement: “Today we change your industry with this product.”
- The way the company representative demoed the product to you was through a PowerPoint or PDF. No live demo? Why wasn’t it possible?
- There’s a surprising amount of leeway on price. Is this product being discounted significantly on a pre-order?
- They say that you can pre-order, yet none of the solutions they’re pitching to you today are available today. Hmm…are you an easy mark for this company?
- The company hasn’t produced a new product in a long time. The point here is not about company size…it’s about how companies that don’t release new products a lot forget how. Releasing a new product is HARD.
- There are press releases dating back more than a year. Is it normal for a company in your industry to announce things more than a year before they are released? For most industries, the answer is no.
- All the information you find on the product is word-for-word from press releases. Either the press releases are really, really good (like the ones from SalesForce) or the press in your industry is not being skeptical. Google is your friend to find this.
- The press/bloggers in your industry rarely call companies on their BS. Who is the watchdog who would tell you that this product is never going to be delivered? Are they really out there doing that or are they a puppet for the company, copying their press releases word-for-word?
Maybe YOU should be your industry’s watchdog! Go to industry events and make a note of products that you’re told are coming in the next year. A year later, publish/blog a list of the ones that have and haven’t arrived.
Don’t let the companies in your industry get away with being all hat and no cattle…