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THOUGHT: Enthusiast websites - a kind of 'self-service shop' for companies?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 31.10.04 - 18:02:15 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 6928x
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I think I get this thought at least once a month but as thoughts come - they also go but this time I want to write about it (maybe because the weather is so lousy today that I don't want to do anything else).
This week, I had a couple of phone calls, SMS messages and instant messages with my fellow MVP Joe of If you are not German-speaking but a Smartphone enthusiast you know - I'm sure - Paul's MoDaCo. Joe's is the same but in German; it's the Smartphone forum here and if you have visited it lately you might have seen the following message there:

"Traffic Limit Reached" and now you even get a DNS error! 8O

But what happened with Pretty easy: Two weeks ago, T-Mobile Germany launched their SDA Smartphone 2003 but as it happens so often, such a difficult product was just launched - the after sales support was forgotten. No FAQs, a couple of trained customer service employees only, etc. So if you bought your Smartphone from T-Mobile and you ran into problems (which can happens with a Smartphone as well as with a Pocket PC because these devices are much smarter than just cell phones) you either Google the web or you call the carrier you bought the device from.
In case of the SDA, some T-Mobile employees thought it's a good idea to refer to since they hadn't had a clue what the customers asked for and mobilejoe is 'such a great platform that the customers can find help there'. So far so good and the theory. "Unfortunately" - in reality - isn't a commercial project but just another enthusiasts website like many other Windows Mobile related sites like PPCW.Net is it also and Joe got so many hits, that he reached the traffic limit he agreed with his provider before (thankfully he agreed a traffic limit because of the costs). In the end, the provider disconnected the server because of the reached volume and became unavailable (and stays unavailable until 2nd November). :-(

Another story in this category is about PPCW.Net and me: a couple of months ago, I joined a presentation of an ODM (you know, these companies like HTC or Compal which originally develop and manufacture most of the devices) and I was quite surprised when I saw a lot of photos in their presentation, tagged with "PPCW.Net". So far so good i Thought because this ODM seems to be aware of PPCW.Net but all the E-Mails I've sent before were never answered. :-(

Last but not least: A carrier took a couple of photos from PPCW.Net some time back and used it (retouched without the PPCW.Net tag) for their own press release. 8O When I called them, they removed these photos from the press release but never compensated me (as the owner of PPCW.Net) or Carlo (as the one who made the photos).

Or the print magazine, which has stolen screen shots from PPCW.Net without asking for permission nor compensating me:

What frustrates me most here is, that these kind of large companies seems to see enthusiast sites as self-service shops, they either can refer too for support or where they can take copyrighted content from - for sure without paying for.
If you contact these companies on the other hand, they pretend to never heard from you. :|

In all the years I'm running Windows CE related websites (since 1997), I got two thank you only - one from a device manufacture which was Casio and one from Microsoft. Maybe you remember (if you are a long time visitor of my sites) how everything started: it was about the registry-hack to make the IrDA port available as a modem port and in 1998, the product manager from Casio contacted and asked me where to send a Casio Cassiopeia E-105 too because they either used my tip at their customer service or they referred my site if customers asked these kind of questions my site was about.
Also Microsoft recognized my work for the community when I became a contributing author for their website in 2000 and an MVP in 2003 and while Microsoft isn't able to provide you all the latest and greatest hardware, they give you the best access to the developers and brains behind the Windows Mobile platform.
But don't believe this is the standard! If you are lucky enough, you may find a product manager at OEMs or ODMs who like you and your work and support you. But this is because this product manager recognized you work, not because the company he/she works for recognized it and if such a person leaves the company, you are left alone again (happened too often in the past).

On the other hand, smaller companies like independent software developers or accessory manufactures are super helpful. If you've reached a critical size (which PPCW.Net seemed to reach ;-)) they provide you the best help they are able to give. These companies already realized how important enthusiast sites are, while device manufactures have their multibillion marketing budgets where enthusiast sites doesn't play a role. :-(

Okay, enough of the rant for the weekend. I will continue anyway because mobility and wireless is what fascinates me but sometimes it would be easier if you would receive better support from the companies, we - the owners of the enthusiast sites - support for free.

And now - back to the positive thoughts and news... ;-)

Cheers ~ Arne


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