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October 09, 2004

Story of FUD

First and last lesson for all sales hunters. Learn the FUDs and lob it hard and wide.

The concept of FUD enjoys a venerable history in the computing field. According to The Jargon File, an online dictionary of hacker slang, Gene Amdahl used the term as an attack on IBM after he left in the early '70s to found his own company: "FUD is the fear, uncertainty and doubt that IBM salespeople instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering (Amdahl) products."

In a 1995 case pitting Addamax against the Open Software Foundation and Hewlett-Packard, Addamax claimed that the defendants used FUD to paralyze the industry and unreasonably raise customers' fears. One internal HP memo cited in that case was titled "Impact of FUD on Sun" and discussed ways to sabotage the AT&T-Sun Microsystems operating system by describing it as "nonstandard."

FUD also was used by cryptographers in the 1990s to scare politicians about criminals using data-scrambling encryption products to cloak their communications. More recently, the term has cropped up in the Microsoft and Linux war, with free software advocates using it to describe disinformation they say SCO Group and Microsoft have spread about the merits of software other than Windows.

For sales folks, there is no better weapon than dropping a doubt in the customer's mind and slowing the procurement process to their advantage. After all when CIOs are getting sacked every other day for screwed-up projects, FUD works like a charm.

It's time some non-profit (may be open source type) project comes up and does factcheck.org version for the software companies. Gartners of the world wont do it, since they are party to this game.

Here is my wishlist for the software world factcheck.org

Publish past, current and future claims as made by the software vendors
Publish successful, barely-made-it and screwup projects as implemented by the software vendors
Technology 101 - cold analysis of secret sauce and fluff
How the same software was sold to customers with pricing varying from free to 2million, price variations in the enterprise software world is scandalous
Companies finances and the possibility of a corporate blow-up

What more we can add to this list ?

October 9, 2004 in Enterprise software | Permalink

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