Rick Chapman

marketing consultant and author

In Search of Stupidity
24 minutes, 5.6mb, recorded 2003-09-25
In 1982 Tom Peters and Robert Waterman kicked off the modern business-book era with In Search of Excellence. The book was a runaway best-seller. But now 21 years later, many of the companies they profiled (Atari, Data General, DEC, Lanier, NCR, and Wang) are only memories. The reasons? In some cases: stupid marketing tricks.

Rick Chapman (with "the resume from hell") has the dubious distinction of having worked for some of the most famous flameouts of the '80s and '90s: MicroPro, Ashton-Tate, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Sun Microsystems, and many others. And he's decided to tell all. Name names and no holds barred.

A common mistake Rick documents is releasing competing products. Remember MicroPros WordStar and WordStar 2000? How about NetWare and UnixWare, both from Novell? Even Microsoft has made this blooper when Windows 95 and NT were simultaneously pitched as the latest and greatest operating system.

With his unique sense of humor, Rick shares some of the lessons from his new book including Data General's DG One, the first laptop computer complete with "an amazing screen that was so shiny you could comb your hair in it."

He also describes some of the train wrecks about to happen: Microsoft's Software Assurance Program and high prices that open the door for Linux. Software pricing hasn't followed the rapidly declining cost of hardware. Customers and box-makers aren't happy that the OS and basic apps are now such a high percentage of the cost of a new system. And all of this makes the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit over Linux and Unix System V all the more interesting.

[We apologize that the audio quality of this IT Conversation isn't great. We're still debugging the new studio hardware. The good news is that we've just found a big part of the problem. The bad news is that we didn't find it before recording Rick's interview.]

This free podcast is from our Behind the Mic series.