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Old 09-24-2008, 11:06 AM   #1
henrikb
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Worst case customer handling?!

I bought my iLiad V2 in July because it
1) was the only reader I could use for A4 pdfs
2) had a strong community and company support (but poor complaint handling)
3) was not restricted to proprietary file types
4) had just launced the Book edition and I expected that there would be some time until next product launch
5) it seemed like a very strong product

Now, I'm
1) waiting for a box to ship the thing to repairs because the buttons stopped working
2) am incredibly disappointed by the sudden launch of a successor (likely to kill the iLiad community - fearing I will never have a fully working djvu reader) and abrubt halt of iLiad features that were promised - comments from iRex employees have been floating around for long about e.g. a new, streamlined reader.

All in all, I am stuck with a reader that I would never have bought if I would have been informed a mere 3 months prior to launch of its successor - I would have waited and both the successor instead!

Irex, you have to understand that you DO NOT launch successors to a very expensive prototype without giving a notice in advance - unless, of course, you have a replacement policy ready.

I feel ripped off. And I just don't buy the 'complementary' product line comments - to me they're 100% substitutes.
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:33 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
And I just don't buy the 'complementary' product line comments - to me they're 100% substitutes.
I agree. What does the iLiad do (using iRex software) that the DR does not also do?
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:56 AM   #3
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Irex, you have to understand that you DO NOT launch successors to a very expensive prototype without giving a notice in advance - unless, of course, you have a replacement policy ready.
I think that may be a bit unfair to iRex. Devices have successors come out all the time, almost never with any warning -- new types of products doubly so.

The iLiad has been out for almost two and a half years, it's not all that shocking that they've been working on something during that time. The only other model they've brought out is the iLiad without wireless: a step down. I'd remark about the hazards of being on the "bleeding edge," but after 27 months it seems to me that the blood's pretty thoroughly dried on the iLiad. The farther you get from the fresh blood, the more likely a successor becomes in any given month, not less.

Nobody says we have to like it, but it's not like it's some egregiously unique thing that only iRex is doing.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:03 PM   #4
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I agree to some extent, but there are three things that stand out:
1) Normally there some kind of communication a while on beforehand
2) This is a very premature product - the change between generation 1 and 2 is far greater than between 8 and 9 - and customer disappoinment will be much stronger
3) The biggest issue here is software support, for instance a way to use the wireless connection (currently pretty much useless), bookmarks, switch between documents etc.

It's not the hibernation, increased ram or bigger and better screen that annoys me - it's that I'm left with a premature product which should be improved quite a bit before/while moving on (this has also pretty much been promised from Irex)
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
2) am incredibly disappointed by the sudden launch of a successor (likely to kill the iLiad community - fearing I will never have a fully working djvu reader) and abrubt halt of iLiad features that were promised - comments from iRex employees have been floating around for long about e.g. a new, streamlined reader.
I personally don't think the DR1000 is a successor to the iLiad. I think they are two product lines that will continue. They have different markets.

Many think though that the iLiad will/should have a price drop, but it may not... even the book edition has the watcom tablet. There is no iLiad version that compares to the DR1000. Perhaps they will come out with a Book Edition lite?

iLiad Book Edition (8inch, Watcom) $599
DR1000S (10inch, Watcom) $749

So, for the same features you get a bigger screen for $150. Seems pretty in line actually.

iLiad V2 (8inch, Watcom, WiFi) $699
DR100SW (10inch, Watcom, WiFi/BT/3g) $849

So, I'll extrapolate that the 1000SW will also be $150 more than the V2. I think that is in line with the price estimates we've seen.

So... no. I don't think the DR line is a successor to the iLiad line, but an additional product line.

I think iRex's biggest problem is that the Book Edition competes with the Sony, Kindle, CyBook, BeBook, Astak which are all in the $300-$350 range (sony actually $250). If they want to compete here they will need to reduce the BE price or maybe come out with a 6inch screen or a DE without the Watcom part.

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Old 09-24-2008, 12:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
1) Normally there some kind of communication a while on beforehand
Ehm ... do you have an example of that sort of beforehand communication which you can share? I'm not coming up with any recollection of any such ....


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Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
2) This is a very premature product - the change between generation 1 and 2 is far greater than between 8 and 9 - and customer disappoinment will be much stronger
Well it seems to me that whether it is premature or not is rather a matter of opinion.

Wait, are you saying the iLiad was premature, or that the DR1000 is premature? I'm not sure I'm following you, and I know you've lost me on the 1,2 -- 8,9 thing.


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Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
3) The biggest issue here is software support, for instance a way to use the wireless connection (currently pretty much useless), bookmarks, switch between documents etc.
Again, on the iLiad or the DR1000? It's sounding like the DR1000 has those things (with the possible exception of bookmarks), how can adding them to the new model be a disappointment to customers?


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Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
It's not the hibernation, increased ram or bigger and better screen that annoys me - it's that I'm left with a premature product which should be improved quite a bit before/while moving on (this has also pretty much been promised from Irex)
Oh, I see, you're saying that the iLiad was premature, in your estimation, and that the further software support that they've committed to (I haven't been following iLiads enough to know the details on what they've committed to, I'm afraid) hasn't materialized, and you're concerned it now won't do so.

Did I get that correctly?

Assuming I did so, then yeah, that's annoying, but again, not terribly surprising. The iLiad forum here is lousy with complaints that they haven't done this or that which they agreed to do. Again, I don't like it, but corporations sometimes don't keep their promises for various reasons, it's no shocker. And while they haven't kept them yet, they are saying that they plan to continue to support the iLiad for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I agree that they probably aren't foreseeing very far here.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:45 PM   #7
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I personally don't think the DR1000 is a successor to the iLiad. I think they are two product lines that will continue. They have different markets.
I see them as two separate lines also, pilotbob.

I think it's really easy to fall into the logical trap of viewing every device in terms of the purpose for which I want it. I.e. if I'm looking for a reading device, I tend to evaluate everything in terms of how suited it is for that purpose. Another example is the way Gizmodo sometimes seems to think everything should be a cell phone or a laptop, and deride devices for not matching those parameters.

It seems to be difficult for folks (and I firmly include myself here) to look at a device in terms of its actual features and consider what that feature set is aimed at.

In my view, the DR line is not at all aimed at casual reading. It's too big, it's too expensive, it's battery life is (maybe?) too short for that pursuit, and it has a lot of features (note taking, web browsing?, ppt support for crying out loud!) that are just so much bragware when I sit down to read a book. Sure it can read books, but so can my desktop PC. That doesn't make it a book reader any more than a quad-core pentium with a 30" monitor is a book reader.

I see the DR line as being aimed at being a professional device. It's suited for handling documents that are in a "standard" business size: Letter/A4. It supports reading and marking up those documents, it supports taking notes in meetings, it supports connecting back to a PC wirelessly to get the document I just realized I need in this meeting. Those aren't "reader" functions. In my view they really should call this thing the "Document Reader" rather than "Digital Reader" -- "digital" is so blatantly obvious as to be redundant, but "document" would tell you something about the device's intended purpose.

You could make some of the same arguments about the iLiad's suitability as a reading device, of course. I find the wireless and Wacom to be bragware for my reading purposes, they're better suited to a professional device. Strip out those features and leave the rest and I think you have a much better reading device ... well, it still needs better battery life.

Another point: iRex has never made a secret that their primary aim is B2B, not consumer, and they really only sell directly to consumers because those consumers raised such a stink. In the earliest stages, they actually required a formal, written acknowledgment from individual customers that the device wasn't meant for consumer use, and was still in their estimation a beta device.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:54 PM   #8
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I see them as two separate lines also, pilotbob.

I did however find the following on their DR FAQ.

Q: Will iRex continue to support the iLiad with new firmware?
A: We will continue to support the iLiad but we have no immediate plans to add new functionalities.

Q: Will the iRex iLiad and iRex Digital Reader 1000 be sold together, or is the iLiad being phased out?
A: The iLiad series will be continued next to the iRex 1000 series, each of these series are addressing a different user group and both product ranges are part of our suite of e-reader products.

Q: Will any of the new software programs be back ported to the iLiad?
A: No, for this the iLiad and the DR1000 hardware infrastructure differ too much.


So, I think "no immediate plans to add new functionalities" is a mistake. They should be planning updates to this product if it is still being sold. Support for booksmarks in Mobi reader makes perfect sense. Also, support of the ePub format would be nice.

You can't say "we still sell the iLiad" and then basically say it is a "legacy" device. Legacy means to me not sold or updated any more but supported.

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Old 09-24-2008, 01:00 PM   #9
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***Deleted double post***

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Old 09-24-2008, 01:01 PM   #10
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Ehm ... do you have an example of that sort of beforehand communication which you can share? I'm not coming up with any recollection of any such ....
I'm referring to pretty much any trade show / industry conference open to public. It's not usual to show the product a week prior to launch.

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Well it seems to me that whether it is premature or not is rather a matter of opinion.

Wait, are you saying the iLiad was premature, or that the DR1000 is premature? I'm not sure I'm following you, and I know you've lost me on the 1,2 -- 8,9 thing.
I meant that the change from the first to second generation of products is generally larger than from the eight to ninth. And iLiad --> DR is an example of the former.

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Again, on the iLiad or the DR1000? It's sounding like the DR1000 has those things (with the possible exception of bookmarks), how can adding them to the new model be a disappointment to customers?
I'm saying that the wireless feature of the iLiad was useless (you can only do iLiad software updates), the audio output wasn't used etc. And the reader itself is poor - bookmarks and in-between document switching should be there. Any professional reviewer would say the same. It's an unfinished beta.

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Oh, I see, you're saying that the iLiad was premature, in your estimation, and that the further software support that they've committed to (I haven't been following iLiads enough to know the details on what they've committed to, I'm afraid) hasn't materialized, and you're concerned it now won't do so.
The committed support has materialized in the form that they confirmed that they won't add further functionalities. Hence, it will remain an unfinished beta.

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Did I get that correctly?

Assuming I did so, then yeah, that's annoying, but again, not terribly surprising. The iLiad forum here is lousy with complaints that they haven't done this or that which they agreed to do. Again, I don't like it, but corporations sometimes don't keep their promises for various reasons, it's no shocker. And while they haven't kept them yet, they are saying that they plan to continue to support the iLiad for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I agree that they probably aren't foreseeing very far here.
Even though it may be no shocker, I'm in my full right to complain when things are unfair. They should dedicate some resources to fix the basic stuff for the iLiad and indicate launch earlier next time.

They are saying that they will support it, but not add further functionalities - which is what support of the iLiad requires apart from also fixing the ones that are broken. Hopefully, a proper release will come.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:05 PM   #11
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Sorry for the double post!

Q: Will iRex continue to support the iLiad with new firmware?
A: We will continue to support the iLiad but we have no immediate plans to add new functionalities.

This is different from what it said in this post:
"So we will continue to support the iLiad and yes there might be new firmware updates for the iLiad, however we do not plan to introduce new functionalities for the iLiad."
http://forum.irexnet.com/viewtopic.php?t=2854&start=15

Two alternatives:
1) There is hope after all
2) The FAQ contains a politician's way of saying what is stated in the post.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:07 PM   #12
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I see them as two separate lines also, pilotbob.

I think it's really easy to fall into the logical trap of viewing every device in terms of the purpose for which I want it. I.e. if I'm looking for a reading device, I tend to evaluate everything in terms of how suited it is for that purpose. Another example is the way Gizmodo sometimes seems to think everything should be a cell phone or a laptop, and deride devices for not matching those parameters.

It seems to be difficult for folks (and I firmly include myself here) to look at a device in terms of its actual features and consider what that feature set is aimed at.

In my view, the DR line is not at all aimed at casual reading. It's too big, it's too expensive, it's battery life is (maybe?) too short for that pursuit, and it has a lot of features (note taking, web browsing?, ppt support for crying out loud!) that are just so much bragware when I sit down to read a book. Sure it can read books, but so can my desktop PC. That doesn't make it a book reader any more than a quad-core pentium with a 30" monitor is a book reader.
The price is pretty much the same as the iLiad, and it is an (active) reading device.
Textbooks and anything else annotable is what I use my iLiad for, but when I bought it 6 months ago there was a fairly clear expectation of "future updates" on my behalf.

If I would've had the choice then between waiting 6 months and getting a device that was bigger (and had a chance of being updated) or not waiting and buying something that was pretty much EOL even then, both for exactly the same price..
Well, i'm sure you can guess where i'm going (I don't care about WiFi, only about the Wacom)

It feels rather like being duped, only there is no other company selling comparable products to turn to if you want to be pissed off about it, which is somewhat frustrating..

Sure, one can argue that it's meant for "business" only, but why would iRex want to artificially limit your market.. Academia is a fairly rich market too, considering their spending habits on other things.

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Old 09-24-2008, 01:34 PM   #13
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If I would've had the choice then between waiting 6 months and getting a device that was bigger (and had a chance of being updated) or not waiting and buying something that was pretty much EOL even then, both for exactly the same price..
Well, i'm sure you can guess where i'm going
Well, that is probably the reason why they kept the device a secret before they had something ready to ship.
They did not want to see the usual drop in sales when a new future device/potential successor is announced. For a one product company this can be a big hit...

Nevertheless. I would fell a bit bad too if I had just bought an iLiad.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
Q: Will iRex continue to support the iLiad with new firmware?
A: We will continue to support the iLiad but we have no immediate plans to add new functionalities.

So, I think "no immediate plans to add new functionalities" is a mistake. They should be planning updates to this product if it is still being sold. Support for booksmarks in Mobi reader makes perfect sense. Also, support of the ePub format would be nice.

You can't say "we still sell the iLiad" and then basically say it is a "legacy" device. Legacy means to me not sold or updated any more but supported.
That could (and I stress could) be an example of poor translation, or they may have phrased it badly (you'd think in a written FAQ they'd be careful about phrasing though). They might mean to say that they aren't adding features, without meaning they don't intend to continue to develop existing features.

... Or they might be doing exactly as you're concerned they are.



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Ehm ... do you have an example of that sort of beforehand communication which you can share? I'm not coming up with any recollection of any such ....
I'm referring to pretty much any trade show / industry conference open to public. It's not usual to show the product a week prior to launch.
Okay, can you give me a specific example?

I can give you a few specific counter examples:
  • Sony PRS500: we knew it was coming, but not when exactly, they didn't announce that until the actual day it went on sale.
  • Sony PRS505: we didn't know it was coming until the day it went on sale.
  • Kindle: despite the leaked FCC filing, we didn't know it was coming until the day it went on sale. In fact in the days right before launch there was heated debate here as to whether it even existed.
  • The iLiad Book version: again, no word until it was ready to go.
  • And of course the DR series.

Actually, iRex did tell us the V2 was coming ahead of time, so they've actually been more communicative than other players.

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Well it seems to me that whether it is premature or not is rather a matter of opinion.

Wait, are you saying the iLiad was premature, or that the DR1000 is premature? I'm not sure I'm following you, and I know you've lost me on the 1,2 -- 8,9 thing.
I meant that the change from the first to second generation of products is generally larger than from the eight to ninth. And iLiad --> DR is an example of the former.
Okay, I see what you're saying: that there ought to be a bigger jump between the iLiad and the DR series.

Okay, I agree that there is arguably not that much difference between them ... of course if there's not that big a jump, then there's not as much lost by having the iLiad vs. the DR.

On the other hand, viewing (as I do) the DR series as professional devices, the extra features that are just so much bragware for a reader are in themselves quite large improvements over the iLiad as a professional device. In my opinion, of course.


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Again, on the iLiad or the DR1000? It's sounding like the DR1000 has those things (with the possible exception of bookmarks), how can adding them to the new model be a disappointment to customers?
I'm saying that the wireless feature of the iLiad was useless (you can only do iLiad software updates), the audio output wasn't used etc. And the reader itself is poor - bookmarks and in-between document switching should be there. Any professional reviewer would say the same. It's an unfinished beta.
I'd agree with that myself, actually ... but that kinda goes along with iRex's B2B focus, doesn't it? They intended to sell the iLiad to other companies, for those companies to put their own software on them. The fact that that never really happened doesn't retroactively change the original intent of the device.

I'd suggest that fiddling around with trying to meet individual customer needs took resources away from pursuing their original B2B plan, and certainly had some impact on its not coming to be, whether that was a deciding factor or not, I couldn't guess.

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Quote:
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Oh, I see, you're saying that the iLiad was premature, in your estimation, and that the further software support that they've committed to (I haven't been following iLiads enough to know the details on what they've committed to, I'm afraid) hasn't materialized, and you're concerned it now won't do so.
The committed support has materialized in the form that they confirmed that they won't add further functionalities. Hence, it will remain an unfinished beta.
At the risk of sounding obnoxious (which I don't mean to do), I can only conclude that you felt that the iLiad was finished enough for your purposes, or you wouldn't have bought it. I don't think it's ever a good idea to buy things based on what might develop for them later.

I remember when my mother was looking at buying one of the first e-Macs: I recommended that she not do so because the only connectors on the fool thing were USB -- at the time there were no USB peripherals. As it turned out, USB peripherals have come to be (and how!), but there wasn't anything at that time except an expectation of them. Obviously Apple was willing to bet on them, but they didn't have all that great a track record at that time so I wasn't willing to suggest my mother place her bets with theirs. As it was, it took several years for things to settle out and prove the USB thing to be a good notion, and Apple had another model (or two?) out in the meantime.

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Originally Posted by NatCh View Post
Did I get that correctly?

Assuming I did so, then yeah, that's annoying, but again, not terribly surprising. The iLiad forum here is lousy with complaints that they haven't done this or that which they agreed to do. Again, I don't like it, but corporations sometimes don't keep their promises for various reasons, it's no shocker. And while they haven't kept them yet, they are saying that they plan to continue to support the iLiad for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I agree that they probably aren't foreseeing very far here.
Even though it may be no shocker, I'm in my full right to complain when things are unfair. They should dedicate some resources to fix the basic stuff for the iLiad and indicate launch earlier next time.
Absolutely you do!

I didn't mean to suggest that you didn't have that right! And I apologize if I seemed to do so, it was not my intention at all.

Of course, I also have the right to express a different opinion of the situation, and we're having a healthy discussion of the situation as a result.

Quote:
Originally Posted by henrikb View Post
They are saying that they will support it, but not add further functionalities - which is what support of the iLiad requires apart from also fixing the ones that are broken. Hence, I won't call it support. Hopefully, a proper release will come.
There's some room in their statement to improve the existing functions, but I think your doubts on that point are probably well founded.

I will say that if they really do intend to continue selling iLiads, they're going to have to demonstrate some genuine support for the line, otherwise folks will decide it's discontinued (in fact if not name), and stop buying them.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:47 PM   #15
henrikb
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I agree that it may seem smart but its only in the very short term. You will recover 95% of the sales 1/2 year later - probably at a higher price point and without disgruntled customers.
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