What do we have today? Since ConnectED a lot of things have happened, but for me it all started at the Connect 2015 in Zürich. As every year, I did a long blog post about it. I took 14 pages of notes and still managed to get it somehow wrong. Or did I really?
The thing that made me “famous” was, that I said, that Scott said, that Jeff said IBM wants half a billion IBM Verse users. That was on 9 of march. On the 17th Volker Weber had a meeting with Jeff, who said, that somebody (me) got it all wrong. It was half a million. I am not deaf (yet) and I was sitting in the second row. Jeff said before, that IBM wants to take on Google with Verse. If IBM plans half a million free mail users, would anybody mention that? Remember, at that moment everybody – including Scott – thought we get a real free thing. Let’s leave it at that.
A week later the much-anticipated Verse Preview version … wait, Preview? On Scotts slide in Zürich was written “Free” and there was the word that it would not be crippled (for a given value of crippled). Within a week IBM got cold feet about the free version. Something they bragged about for month. No wait. Got it wrong again. After a week of … I would not say shit storm, rather a collective frustration of the yellow bubble, in the aforementioned meeting Jeff said … or hinted … that there will be a real free version. They just did not like the word freemium. But did I read wrong? In the support forum IBM stated, that the preview version will replace the free version (3-24-15). Now we have apparently turned 180 degrees. It might be possible, that for the first time, IBM actually listened. Jeff told Volker Weber, that the limitations will be much higher. Happy days … we thought.
A week later came this infamous video, which I will not share here in the hope, that it will just disappear, if we ignore it. I resist the urge to give you a link to Vowe’s post with all the comments. Youtube has just three comments and they are not favorable either. I just want to look at one comment from Vowe’s post:
in 2015 no piece of video can be limited just to it’s “target audience”
From a marketing perspective, this is two-fold. While you can not limit the audience that watches (you never could really, not even in 1950), you still have to target a specific audience. No matter what you do, videos, pictures, texts, anything to carry your message, at the receiving end is your target audience … hopefully. The people you want to buy your things. You can not please everybody. Budweiser ads are made for beer drinkers. Everybody else either does not care about beer in general or does not buy Budweiser as a matter of principle. It is just that part of the audience that a) likes beer and b) would try a(nother) Budweiser, that is the target. Forget about the rest, but some in that rest will still like the ad anyway and talk about it. In our case unfortunately, the potential Verse drinkers a) did not get what is was all about or b) just hated the ad. The rest was sitting there with their mouth open, believing they were in the wrong universe. I am sure, that there is a target audience for this video, I just could not get the address.
After that our always thoughtful and clever Ben came up with three questions.
#1 is the most interesting: Do those of us in the IBM Partner community believe in Verse and want it to succeed?
Accidentally, Luis Richardson asked us in Zürich almost the same question. Do we as partners want to be part of it? He sees it almost as the time, when partners did all these incredible applications for Notes and Domino. I do have my own questions a) What is in there for me? b) is it about selling Verse or Verse apps?
Looking back, I see the Notes Designer. An almost elegant developement environment. Easy to learn languages. A simple and stable database system. Something that made starting developing a joy, because you were able to do so much with so little knowledge. XPages are not in the same category, even though, IBM tries hard to make it as easy as possible. Will Verse give us the same possibilities as we had with Notes to repeat the success we had? Forget it. The technology behind it is much more complicated and in recent years IBM wasn’t the poster child for great documentation for developers. IBM would have to create a shop for the cloud version, where customers would be able to try and buy things from partners. Well others can do things like that, but I doubt that IBM is willing to let us build “plugins” or whatever it is called today (“Extensions” anyone?).
Next step. On April first the final version should have been there. Some people got it few days later and were disappointed. The promised new limitations just were not there. Instead there is now a Verse Basic, which is exactly like Verse Preview, but one can send 100 mails a day, instead of 25. Wow. But at least one can see all the other Verse Basic users, which disqualifies it as an alternative to any other web mail service.
Now let us do a little list:
- The idea of Mail Next got us all excited for over a year now.
- They called it Verse
- We were promised a free version and we hoped, that would be something we could actually use and IBM wants to take on Google with it.
- What we first got was a free version that was called a preview version that was so crippled it wasn’t even good enough for testing the most important features.
- The preview version was killed for a promised new free version with much higher limitations. That never saw the light of the day.
- The new version is called Verse Basic version and is in fact the Verse Preview. It isn’t intended to be used as a production mail client.
- It isn’t even finished (for a given value of finished).
IBM could have kept the “Preview” in the Name. At least it describes correctly what it is. From a basic product I expect at least that I can use it.
I am still waiting for my Verse Preview/Basic account, but I am not the least motivated to do any sensible testing anymore.
But I get emails about Verse webcasts where they say that they missed me. The kind of webcast were everybody is always “so excited”. Apparently tomorrow is the next one. I got the confirmation about registering for it. Don’t remember.