A Partnership Is Worth Zilch When….

dvclogo… your partner fails to provide an obvious path to download and install your software.

In early July last year I wrote about the launch of Dell Video Chat, based on a newly announced agreement between Dell and SightSpeed to use SightSpeed’s video services. The bottom line was that Dell Video Chat would become available on an expanding range of Dell PC’s.What follows is a story about what turns users away from Windows PC’s and why Apple is doing so well with its iMac’s and MacBooks these days.But it also has to be an embarrassment to Dell.

As background I should say that recently I have watched as two non-tech persons have started up their MacBooks for the first time. Turn it on, asks for your name and contact information, upgrades the software, takes your photograph with the built-in webcam, finds the WiFi, connects to the Internet (and finds other PC’s on your LAN). In about 20 to 30 minutes you’re up and running. No hassles, no new software to install; it just happens!. And subsequently these people do not come back to me for technical support, especially on security, operating system upgrade and new software installation issues.

This weekend I am helping an acquaintance getting transitioned to a new Dell Vostro 220 desktop PC. Due to one critical business application that only supports a Windows installation this person could not change to a Mac. In the course of starting it up I found there was a webcam embedded onto the monitor and installed the appropriate webcam software. (No, Dell did not pre-install it even though a monitor with embedded webcam was included in the initial order.) Ran a client called Dell Webcam Central. You could take photos or record video while seated in front of the monitor.

switchtovideochatThen I noticed in the upper right hand corner an option to “Switch to video chat”. Recalling that I had written about Dell Video Chat last summer I clicked on the link. And got a dialogue box stating: “You have not installed the video chat application ‘Dell Video Chat’. Do you want to download now?” Clicked on the “Yes” button.

This took me to a Dell web page that asked for my Dell Service Tag. Entered it and ended up on  the standard page of driver downloads for the Vostro PC. Looked through the various categories (after identifying my OS as Windows XP) and could not find Dell Video Chat software anywhere. No application downloads. Nothing about it listed in a sidebar on the same page. Nada, Did a search. No luck.

So, at this point, not being sure if I had installed Dell’s webcam software properly I installed Skype on this PC and found it recognized my webcam, including its associated microphone, with no problem. Dell had failed to provide any means (let alone a user-friendly means) to download and install the Dell Video Chat software.

Sort of defeats the purpose of having this SightSpeed-Dell agreement and the associated easy access to the relevant software somehow. It actually turned out to be easier for me to download and install Skype (and have ready access to voice and/or chat conversations with the huge Skype user base).

A couple of points made in posts since my initial one about the arrangement between Dell and SightSpeed have happened since last summer:

  • Skype hired Scott Durchslag as COO. In a post about CxO’s and their persoanl business networks I pointed out that both Scott and Ron Garriques, now Dell’s President of Global Consumer Group, had worked together at Motorola.
  • Logitech announced it would acquire SightSpeed in late October.

Aside from Dell’s obvious quality assurance problem described above, the sceptic in me might ask:

  • Did Logitech’s acquisition of SightSpeed somehow sour the Dell relationship with SightSpeed?
  • If it’s all but impossible for a somewhat technically savvy person to find and install Dell Video Chat, is there any Dell Video Chat user registered out there with whom a user could have a conversation?
  • Has SightSpeed been tracking any metrics on Dell Video Chat adoption?
  • Is there an opportunity here for Skype to leverage a Skype executive’s previous relationship with a current Dell executive to initiate discussions about having Dell provide Skype with all its PC’s?
  • Will “Skype Everywhere” include Dell PC users when they want to hold voice, chat and video conversations simply by default? “No biz dev required.”

Just wondering …..Where’s the value in a Dell partnership? It’s all about execution!

In spite of being a 14-year purchaser of Dell PC’s, it’s one more nail in the Dell/Microsoft coffin as I contemplate a transition to a MacBook for my next laptop purchase.

And, in case anyone was wondering about what Steve Jobs brought to the table at Apple: a discipline within Apple’s corporate culture that focuses on a friction-free and overwhelmingly successful user experience. In spite of Steve’s current absence that corporate culture is not going away anytime soon.

Phil’s Observations:

SightSpeed’s CEO Peter Csathy:

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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