Removing Features Is Not An Upgrade

from the strategic-stupidity dept

It’s sometimes amazing at how the entertainment industry seems to make strategically backwards decisions sometimes. Just as they’re finally recognizing that they really do need to compete with free — and that that’s absolutely possible — someone goes and does the opposite. The way you compete with free is by embracing free as a promotional mechanism and then offering something else or something more that’s worth paying for, that people want to pay for and that they don’t mind paying for. It’s about increasing value. Not so hard really… though you’d never believe it to watch the way the industry acts sometimes. The latest, as sent to us by John is an Engadget posting about Creative sending a firmware “update” to a few of its portable media players that fixes some bugs… and also disables the previously available feature for recording FM radio. Yes, this is a feature that existed one moment and is now gone. It’s a feature that people may have paid extra for. It’s a feature that may have convinced people to buy the Creative device for over the competition. And, for some reason, it’s now gone. Hopefully, it’s just an error — but if it really is at the urging of the recording industry (as many are assuming — perhaps too quickly), then it’s a huge step in the wrong direction. It’s trying to compete by making your own product less valuable, rather than increasing the value and offering something that’s worth paying for. So, hopefully this is a mistake, but if it was done on purpose, it’s definitely a step backwards.

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Comments on “Removing Features Is Not An Upgrade”

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RantMax says:

The new marketing strategy

“It’s trying to compete by making your own product less valuable, rather than increasing the value and offering something that’s worth paying for.”

Hey, it worked with iPod, didn’t it… they don’t have FM recording ability either. Or FM playback as a matter of fact.

I just wanted to state the obvious: they are not trying to compete by removing FM recording, they were apparently forced to do so led by legal concerns and possibly threats.

We’re in transition, guys. Don’t blame the industry for trying to stick to old models and suing everyone into oblivion.

Look into history: adaptation is hard. Most that try to change fail. Some succeed, but they are in the minority.

Instead completely new firms take their place, which never had to deal with adaptation to begin with.

So if I were RIAA or MPAA, I’d sue everyone to hell and back, since is the best bet I have to survive for a little longer before I’m totally driven into non-existence.

That said, as I said: we’re in transition. At the end of the transition there’s no RIAA, no MPAA and there *IS* radio recording ability.

Help progress by producing more independent content and using the new distribution channels (YouTube, MySpace /yugh…/ and so on) or your own sites.

Just how things work from a different perspective (of a ranting Max)

Rick says:

Re: The new marketing strategy

That’s not the issue – legal or not. They sold their customers a product that does certain things, now it no longer is capable of doing those things.

How would you feel if you bought a car. This car drove great and had all the features you wanted in it. You’re required to keep it maintained though at the dealer. When you go into the dealer they remove the ability to turn left. Turning left had been outlawed in your city, so they removed it for legal reasons.

Would that be ok?

Should you get the money you paid for the car back so you can go to another city, where turning left is legal, and buy a car that turns left?

Creative messed up. Removing the feature from future products is fine, but disabling a feature they used to sell you the product is not.

Brian says:

Re: Re: The new marketing strategy

I agree with Rick, and Paul (engadet) This sounds fishy to me. It seems like everyone is bending to the RIAA these days, letting the RIAA run with any play they can concieve. Perhaps I could understand if the Zen had sat-radio to record, but FM?!? Com’on… give me a break!

Give me an album (err…full CD) worth purchasing, and I’ll shell out for it. In the mean time, trying to stand in the way of new technology for short-term gains is like trying to hold back the tide with a broom.

It’s just folly.

RantMax says:

Oh and one more thing...

Oh and one more thing… Our next iPod will shoot rainbows out its ass!

No, wait, I actually wanted to add something for real: I don’t like where things are heading with the entertainment.

There’s too much content, you can become addicted to it (like following a zillion series on TV and becoming depressed if you miss an episode), and build your life around it, and the obsession not to miss anything.

Our brain isn’t well built to handle the simple fact we’ll always miss most of *anything*, and until we have this problem I see big problem with media and entertainment.

To tie it to the current article: maybe it’s better that P2P piracy is cut down, that we can’t record radio and we can’t transfer media from device to device.

Maybe we’ll learn to appreciate entertainment for the crap it is, and move onto doing something better with our lives…

…like reading blogs! All blogs you can read! And you better watch out not to miss one!

Shut up. says:

Re: Re: Oh and one more thing...

WTF are you talking about?

Good/bad music is defined by the individual listener. good/bad are subjective tems and do not have universal application.

Apparently the Beatles music inspired Charles Manson to murder a bunch of people…does that mean it is bad music, because some crazy bastard listened to Revolution and went on a killing spree?

RantMax says:

A car that won't turn left


First, I’d say: don’t update the firmware of your car if you’re afraid you may not turn left.

Further, you may look for legal loopholes and cracks, like wheels that steer left by default, so you gotta steer right to go straight and steer further more to right to go right.

But pointless rumblings aside, I hate car comparisons. They drive me to write pointless rumblings.

The fact a manifacturer may update a product you bought and remove features is just a result from the technology level our culture has reached. Being up to date has advantages and disadvantages.

A guess in this particular case we’re seeing disadvantage. That said, if my mp3 player had a terrible bug that caused it to play all my songs backwards, I’d appreciate the ability to download a fix versus throwing it away.

The owner is not out of options: he can complain, try to return it, try to revert the firmware, or eventually sue.

It’s also easy to assess that randomly dumping features of products is not something manifacturers like to do.

If they knew they’d have to remove a feature, they’d never implement it in first place. As I said, we’re in transitional period.

Your next Creative player in particular, will either have FM rec out of the box or not. I doubt they’ll do this again. So take it for what it is: a weird exception.

A chicken passeth by says:

“First, I’d say: don’t update the firmware of your car if you’re afraid you may not turn left.”

Once Firmware Over The Air takes off for wifi and connected devices, and upgrading is mandatory, there’s no way to prevent this – tho I think there’ll be a delay in deploying FOTA, since this technology accidentially bricked 2 phone types to date…

P2P piracy has nothing to do with pressing the record button on a tape-deck equivalent, by the way.

Nobody Special says:

Re: Re:

Once Firmware Over The Air takes off for wifi and connected devices, and upgrading is mandatory,…..

And what will force me to connect the device to my wifi? Or what will prevent me from not allowing said device to connect to the Internet?

As for the technology not being in use – you are simply incorrect. Cingular has used it for years to update certain phones. Dish Network has updated my device numerous times over the past several years. Many new features have been added this way.

But to force the issue would require a manufacturer to pay a monthly fee for a cell connection. And somehow making it phone home for updates will then raise all kinds of privacy concerns for some people. And you have to ask – what is in it for the manufacturer? Creative has no vested interest in your choosing to not update your device.

blink4blog (user link) says:

removing wat?

well, the same methodology applies to open source, commercial-ware and shareware on the net.

an upgrade shall be defined as changes to merrier, not the other way. an updates shall be defined as bug fixes, workaround while an patch shall be defined as big problem solver.

removal of features simply annoyed and shall be defined as updates, hence no charge shall be imposed.

Hippopotomus Floured says:

Creative did the same thing to me. When I bought my Nomad II, I could transfer music from the player back to my computer. I saw a firmware upgrade that said it fixes some things, but didn’t say anything else, so I downloaded it and applied it. (Creative provided no means for backing up the original firmware, nor could I download it.) After the update, I discovered that the transfer process was now one-way: computer to player.

However, that was many years ago and the player in question had only 32 MB of memory. Now, even the cheap freebie give-aways have more memory, and so that they don’t have to worry about drivers, they are plug-and-play as USB hard drives. Not only can you transfer music bi-directionally, but you can carry files to and from work.

Bad technology will always (eventually) be replaced by something better.

Sanguine Dream says:

So does...

that mean that if a feature is being disabled in those two models of the Creative Zen Player the price will drop a little? Will they change the features listing on items? Does Creative give a disclaimer and explanation about everything the upgrade is doing? I’ve been doing some research on mp3 players for the last 6 months or so (I plan to buy around Christmas sale time) and Creative has the upper hand in my mind. But depending on what happens with this my opinion may change…

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