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Re: concerns for the future

> I think the lists constitute a better forum, from users' perspective,
> than any formal procedures RH might have in place.
> According to marketing gurus (I'm not one) something like four percent
> of Australia shoppers who feel mistreated, who buy faulty products or
> who feel the service is bad actually complain.

You have nice people in Australia then. When I was in marketing a few
years back, our training was that every dissatisfied Cx would tell 10
friends, but every satisfied Cx would tell no-one (I'm Canadian). We were
also trained to believe that it costs 10x more to get a new Cx than it
does to retain a current one, so customer service and retention programs
are premium.

> The disaffected simply shop elsewhere, it's much easier and much less
> aggravating.
> I suspect that in respect of Linux distributions, where the ease of
> changing to another vendor is so much greater, that many fewer than four
> percent complain.

Most don't complain about linux, and they actually move to other distros
not out of dissatisfaction (present condition excluded) but rather because
there's something they like better in the other distro. I remember trying
different distros that I found to be lacking, and rather than complaining
just quietly forgot about them as possibilities (ie. TurboLinux, Caldera
and Mandrake).

I think that's what is so remarkable about the present situation with
redhat... that previously satisfied users are moving away from it because
of dissatisfaction with lousy marketing tactics.

Up until now, I thought redhat was doing a great marketing job. It seemed
that they knew that companies want qualified support and software that can
be written off as an expense. Guys like us who use the free stuff are
mostly local users or tiny little businesses, or contributers to the
community in some way. I could see them making $$ from us, because my
company purchased 48 licences from redhat (not $40 boxed sets) for our
client base over the last 3 years. I suspect we're not the only one doing
this either.

Over the next year, those 48 licenses will be moved over to another distro
unless redhat makes some backwards moves and extends the support cycles
for current distros. If they are going to do this, they have to move fast
as we are in the final pre-deployment testing stages for conducting Debian

I believe that redhat missed some great marketing ops over the last few
years. For example, had they offered extended telephone -based tech
support support rather than just installation Q&As, they could have made a
decent renewable profit off those 48 licences. Instead, they sold RHCE
courses and that was the end of their support and VAR revenue stream.

Now. because of their success in market penetration, mostly due to the
fact that they are a well-known distribution company and that linux is a
rock-solid and extendable OS with a great history, they have some of the
big server manufacturers looking at them closely. Sun recently came
on-board, as have some of the other server manufacturers. I think the last
thing redhat should be doing is challenging their user base at this time,
especially since a large part of their user base has the propensity to
vote with their feet.

A diminishing userbase is not in their best interest, especially in
consideration of the fact that redhat is a publically traded company, and
the stock market is an environment where appearances are everything. I
think they could have solidified a better market share by asking the
userbase to contribute to redhat revenues by not distributing the software
at zero cost to businesses who can afford to pay. Had they backed this up
with stronger user support, they could have continued to give certain
other server software vendors a good run for their money.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I ask you to keep in mind that I'm
only one person representing one small company.
Keith Mastin
BeechTree Information Technology Services Inc.
Toronto, Canada
(416)696 6070

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