Mario Charest email@example.com wrote:
About a year ago somebody at QSSL told me that they would put less focus on
the “free” community; simply because they are not paying the bills, and I
agree with that although to some degree it sadens me. I think the argument
that a free version is needed to let people learn about it it total
In the general case you are probably correct, but I don’t believe this to be
the case with QNX. The problem is that the marketing efforts of QSS have
either been abysimmally poor or non-existent, regardless of the reason, they
have never truely managed to aquire a significant percentage of “mindshare”.
There are projects (large and small) that don’t even consider QNX, and for
the most part it is because they don’t know it even exists. The “free”
versions of QNX have been far more successfull at marketing QNX to prospective
new customers than any of their marketing efforts in the past.
QSS in the QNX2 and QNX4 days was successful because they use to appeal to
the technical people who then were able to convince management of its
capability, sometime it worked sometime it didn’t. I well remember in these
In the pre-dotcom boom, it was more common for the technical people to be
given the authority to choose the OS and hardware platform for a project.
Things are different now, and it is rare that the OS or hardware platform
is chosen on purely technical merit. QSS’s success is attributable to one
simple thing: The quality of the product. QNX has always been an excellent
product. The company has been a success because of this and in spite of
thier marketing efforts.
targeting real decision maker. That’s what their decisions are based on,
not the winning of the small customers and people using the free version.
They have to listen to the voice of the people with money.
The problem is exactly what John points out. Eventually you need NEW
customers, and if you are too focused on just the “big” customers of
today you miss out. The next big customer is a small customer today, if
you aren’t attracting small customers then your future growth is in some
serious trouble. You also need mindshare, people need to know about you
and have at least heard something about your company so that you will be
considered for new projects at new companies.
Simply put, a business plan that only focuses on large customers and that
alienates small and medium customers will not be successful in the long
I mean as a company QSS must be doing something right because somebody gave
them 138Millions, more then 5 time their annual revenus. Please people get
some perspective here.
Actually, we don’t know Harman’s true reason for aquiring QSS. According to
a recent article in the December 15, 2004 issue of SD Times the speculation
is quite different. Here is the relvant quote:
“Apparently, the impetus for the acquisition was a lack of
confidencein QNX’s longevity. Twenty-three years of growth
and profitability were not enough for the automotive
industry to alleviate fears about the company’s future
I have no difficulty believing this to be the actual reason for Harman’s
That and the fact that the actual QNX developers took time to answer
questions from users.
They are still doing it Bill, but not to me or to you but to bigger customer
that are paying big dollars for the support from senior developer. That
means support from the senior staff has increase tremendously in value which
is a good thing for QNX but not to you >
Actually, this isn’t quite the case. There are some people at QSS that are
making the effort to help people in the newsgroups, but for the most part
they are being actively discouraged from this activity. Rumours are that
some have been reprimanded for it, and many more are gun-shy and silent. It
does not bode well to have a workforce that is afraid to help people out.
There are exceptions, as you know, but their numbers are dwidnling at an
The release cycle has also been significantly extended. We used to have
patches available that addressed major bugs available within a week or
month of the bug being discovered. Now any bug fix, regardless of whether
it is critical, major, or minor is bundled up into a “service pack” patch
and may not become available for 6-8 months after the discover and fixing
of even a critical bug. Again, there have been some exceptions posted in
the myQNX area, but for the most part we are subjected to 6-8 months between
patches or releases, and even for paying customers if you don’t have a
support plan, you often can’t get the patches.
There is priority support that gets you these bug fixes sooner, but the
fees associated with them are outragously expensive, potentially costing
more than the annual salaries of two experienced full-time developers.
Bugs in the core product may not get priority for fixing if a priority
support customer has not asked for them, at some point along the way,
the core product took second stage to big customer demands. QSS cares
less about their core product than they do about a few select customers.
Ultimately, that will catch up with them, I’d argue that it’s already
Carefull observation of QSS’s business practices since the release of
QNX RTP (aka QNX 6.0) reveals a picture of a company in financial
trouble. Efforts have been concentrated on ways to put a price tag
on every aspect of the business. We’ve seen features removed from the
NC versions to encourage / force more sales of dev seatsr. We have seen
the support of the SE edition lag behind the PE edition in an attempt
to encourage people to buy PE instead of SE. We’ve seen bug fixes and
critical patches that were formerly available for free to paying customers
that had registered their products become unavailable without support
plans. Even bugs fixed for a paying customer with a support plan not
become available for significant periods of time, or until a priority
customer requests the same bug fixed. We’ve seen bug fixes in the core
product take a backseat to priority support customers. We’ve seen
major functionality removed between versions and re-positioned in TDKs
marketed only at large customers with no business model for runtime
deployment. We’ve seen upgrade fees applied even when support plans
are valid. We’ve seen release cycles that are often longer that a standard
support plan, making the purchase of support somewhat of a gamble as
What we have seen is a desperate attempt to suck every possible dollar
from customers at the expense of all else. Sometimes at the expense of
keeping the customer at all.
Let’s hope that the focus will shift back to the product now that Harman
has alleviated the need for desperate focus on nickle-and-diming the
customer to stay alive.
Martin Zimmerman firstname.lastname@example.org
Camz Software Enterprises www.passageway.com/camz/qnx/
QNX Programming & Consulting www.qnxzone.com