Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Crossing the Chasm and CityDesk

I'm reading Mr. Moore's book "Inside the Tornado" now and I have to admit its simply great. Applying its theory to CityDesk, I've I asked myself if it has already crossed the Chasm and is inside the tornado or at least the bowling Valley.

That's difficult question for me to answer, as I don't have any reliable idea on CityDesk market share and revenue's growth.

I'd refer to most CityDesk buyers whom I personally know as "Early Adopters".

"Pragmatists" I've asked usually had no idea CityDesk even exists. Most people I know would refer to free PHP solutions as an example of CM system. So CityDesk is unlikely to be a well recognised market leader at the moment.

So did CityDesk already crossed the Chasm with CityDesk? Don't think so.

Joel keeps telling how easy to use and reliable CityDesk is (and it is indeed). It looks like they do everything to minimise need for post sales support at FogCreek - providing nice installation wizard, intuitive interface etc, but just a few months ago they have dramatically changed their licensing policy, giving some very fogy explanation which didn't seem to be 100% genuine to me (again I might be wrong).

Something about support cost outweighing the Personal Edition's price ($79). So, instead of changing the license and limiting support for some versions, they just cut whole bunch of customers by increasing minimal price up to $300. In many countries it makes whole difference between being able to buy the product and using free solution.

"Inside the Tornado" states that lowering your price bellow $700 would allow to enter the  tornado for office market in US and $300 to enter the tornado for home market. Does it mean, that Fog Creek decided that they "under priced" their product before and they are more confident now than ever that tornado is on its way?

Vlad Gudim
Monday, February 02, 2004

Semi Related:

"chasm analysis for citydesk"
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=71508

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, February 02, 2004

Mark, thank you for excellent link.  Its was worth reading and would be nice to use it as a starting point for this discussion.

Vlad Gudim
Monday, February 02, 2004

What is Mr. Moore's book "Inside the Tornado" about?

ignore my ignorance
Monday, February 02, 2004

Moore defines a "tornado" as one of possible life stages of a high-tech product. Simply its when you have new customers queuing behind your doors. Quoting Joel its when "everybody buys it and we have to hire full time employees just to slit open the envelopes and take out the checks".

This book focuses on product development and marketing strategies inside the "tornado", although it has a lot on  acting in pre-tornado and post-tornado stages.

Vlad Gudim
Monday, February 02, 2004

3.0 & 4.0 will be the ones which cross the chasm.

Prakash S
Monday, February 02, 2004

Vlad wrote :

" So, instead of changing the license and limiting support for some versions, they just cut whole bunch of customers by increasing minimal price up to $300"


Vlad, not giving customers tech support is very very bad for your reputation for several reasons:

1. Those "cheapie" licenses that don't get support often don't understand WHY they aren't getting support.

2.  Having ANY customer have an unresolved  tech support problem for a product they purchased will lead to loud complaining.

3. Tech support is like health insurance. Everyone wants to pay the cheap premiums but, when they get sick, they expect the best service.

The real Entrepreneur
Monday, February 02, 2004

The real Entrepreneur,

well see you point. But again, 95% of problems would be the same, so they could create internal FAQ and hire some lower-paid people to cut&paste answers... Well, well, I see FogCreek goes no less than for excellence in its products quality.

But again, CityDesk is no more affordable for many organisations and private persons outside the US. To make it convincing I probably ought to see the numbers, because I still do not believe that $79 were creating such a load on FogCreek's tech support.

Do you think this decision might actually have played its bad role in shifting tornado date for CityDesk into future? How would one know from outside FogCreek?

Well, let me put this question simpler: "If FogCreek was public, would it shares go up or down after this decision?".

Vlad Gudim
Monday, February 02, 2004

BTW, most people who came from other side (eastern) of the "Iron Curtain" would probably understand my point a bit better.

There are certain cultural differences between East Side and West Side: most people on the West Side would almost instinctively pull the phone once they had even slightest problem with an application. They do know that if they are entitled to support it's stupid not to use it.

People on the East Side didn't buy programs for some time, they were "borrowing" them. Hence the knowledge that they were not entitled to any support. Add a language barrier and international calls cost and you'll see that they would rather spend several hours trying to find a solution themselves than to call abroad.

Probably now its mostly work culture thing, for even paying for software former East Side still uses tech support much more rarely than West.

Vlad Gudim
Monday, February 02, 2004

I've always liked this model...

1. Create a community forum for your product support.
2. Send your support people to that forum.
3. Let customers support each other, too.

Once this forum is working reasonably well, you can create a "premium" area where paying customers can go. Then you can gradually migrate most of your support personnel into the premium area. By doing this slowly, you allow community leaders to develop who will provide tech support to the low- or no-cost users, and concentrate your own tech support on the users who buy support licenses.

This is based on the way open source products provide support, because that model tends to work best if supervised in the early stages. Once it reaches a certain critical mass, it can take care of itself, but until it hits that point the community is constantly threatening to fall over.

Caliban Tiresias Darklock
Monday, February 02, 2004

Caliban Tiresias Darklock,

it makes sense to me, but would probably better work with  more technically oriented folks, like those who  form open-source community. Not sure it would really work for CityDesk with its non-tech audience.

Vlad Gudim
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

"Not sure it would really work for CityDesk with its non-tech audience."

They're sort of pseudo tech, actually. The end user bugs the designer and the designer bugs fog creek. In this case the designer isn't really a programmer, but is fairly tech savvy and knows the difference between FTP and HTTP.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home