Vulkano: A Case Study in Bad Marketing

Vulkano: A Case Study in Bad Marketing

The Sept. 16 New York Times includes a review of the Vulkano by David Pogue.  Excerpts below are from that review — as well as my comments.

Vulkano (from Monsoon Multimedia) is “like a combination TiVo and Slingbox.”  Except that it doesn’t work. So why is a big-time technology reviewer like David Pogue picking on Monsoon Multimedia, a company so far below the radar that it’s like a stealth fighter?  Answer: “… the company asked me to review it. You would think that such a request implied a certain confidence in the product’s readiness for consumers”

Indeed. Problems identified by Mr. Pogue include:

  • the necessity to forward a port range on your router to the Vulkano box during setup, apparently with no documentation.
  • failure to play back some videos at all with no error message. (“The company’s tech rep says he gets this problem sometimes, too. ‘Some of [them] play, some of ’em won’t,’ he said.”) Let’s make sure we understand this — the company knew about this problem and still sent the unit to Pogue for review.  Somewhere Scott Adams must be LHAO (look it up).
  • Vulkano attempts to make the downloaded video available to a mobile device.  But when you schedule the recording you have to specify which device: “iPod Touch/iPhone, iPad, Droid, Mac, PC, TV and so on”  And you can’t change your mind later.

Which leads to the inevitable question: why did Monsoon Multimedia submit the device for review?  I can think of two possibilities.  First, Monsoon is running out of money and needs more VC funding.  Or, far more likely, management was thinking with their collective egos rather than their brains.  Regular readers here can probably figure out which hypothesis I believe.  But feel free to leave your own alternatives as comments below.

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