In a recent magazine article about iSeries marketing
an IBMer was explaining how the "pixie dust" campaign
was winding down and a new campaign is about to be
launched.  In this new campaign they had looked at the
profile of the typical iSeries customer and had
decided to target similar businesses using competing
platforms.  This marketing person whose name I forget
- and it's irrelevant - was excited and damn proud of
this new campaign.  They were really going to go after
the competition.  The result?  This new campaign will
target HP customers.  That's right, HPUX.  

This is exactly off target.  

The competition is Wintel, and their eating our lunch.
 And breakfast.  And dinner.  

Now I'm not going to bore you with some rant about how
great the iSeries is and how unreliable/insecure
Windows is.  I'm sure we're all on the same page here.
 I don't want to go on about IBM's marketing.  I do
want to suggest some positive ideas though.  Well,
just one thing actually.

I'm sure many on this list face a situation similar to
this... your employer is moving to NT and little if
anything is being planned for the iSeries.  Perception
has become reality... management and vendors see a
shrinking market therefore the market has been and is
shrinking... slowly but surely.  Another depressing
indicator is the fact that the job market is dead,
unless you want to help someone move to NT.  This is
too bad because there's alot of exciting new stuff
happening on the box... in fact it's better than ever
and better than the competition!  Yet the shrinking
trend continues.

A post last week or so spoke about Code/400 and how
IBM had targeted "the guy on the train" with that
product.  A similar campaign is needed now.  

We're all that "guy on the train".  The people on this
list are the ones who can breathe life into the
iSeries market.  We the fans, the true believers, who
know what the machine is about and see the potential. 
It's down to us.  People outside the iSeries market
aren't going to do it.  And too many brain numb
managers want MS because "it's standard", "open", "not
legacy" etc. ad nauseum.  We are the one who will
develop the next generation of apps for the iSeries.

But we need some help.  

IBM is currently promoting a "$9,999" iSeries.  But to
be useful, double that price.  This is not enough
though.  Nowhere near enough.  What I'm going to
suggest may seem shocking, especially to IBM, but I
believe that unless something shocking is done the
iSeries niche will continue to shrink.

So what does the guy on the train need to develop apps
these days?  It's more than WSDc, the modern day
"Code/400" if you will.

A quick flip through the latest Dell junk mail reveals
a 2.4 GHZ 30GB Windows laptop for about $1,100.  Not a
bad start.  Throw in MySQL, Tomcat, and your favorite
IDE and you're a good ways there. 

But what if the guy (or gal!) wants to develop for the
iSeries?  What if our train passenger is eager to
follow IBM's direction: WSDc, WAS and so forth to
develop the next generation of iSeries/400 apps? 
Fully GUI with a browser or java app interface.  What
is there for our enthusiastic entrepreneur?  They have
to have to wait till they get home and then they can
work on their $20K+ box... if they're lucky enough to
afford one.  

In other words, many potential developers are largely
locked out.

But let's say you're fortunate enough to have an
iSeries at home and you've worked 24/7 getting your
app ready.  Finally it's time to go to the prospect
and make them a customer.  Your first sale.  Good luck
hauling along your iSeries for the demo!  And who has
a T1 line at home to make demo-ing your app over the
internet truly a viable option?  And even though the
iSeries is reliable there's nothing like having the
machine nearby in case of problems. 

Now for the shock.  What's needed is a full blown
laptop iSeries capable of running Websphere and
serving maybe half a dozen users as well as running
Windows for the WSDc software.  A tall order.  But it
gets taller.  This must be out the door ready to run
for under $15K, $10K preferably.

This price point is within reach.  Portability means I
can bring my iSeries on the plane to the customer and
show them my product in their office.  If I bring a
hub with me then everyone at the conference table can
clip their laptops into a little impromptu network
serving up my app.

Technical hurdles?  Sure.  But I have faith in IBM. 
>From basic research to end product they have
consistently and repeatedly turned out superior
products.  I truly think they do a great job and are
matchless.  And I'm sure you remember the end result
of this research and some of these great, or even
revolutionary, products: the IBM PC, Microchannel,
OS/2.  Marketing has dropped the ball on all of these
however.  Is the iSeries to be added to the list?  If
getting excited over targeting HPUX is an
indication... maybe.  Quite likely even.

Now this would be an awesome deal for we developers,
no question about it!!!  What's in it for IBM? 
Consider it seeding the market.  Small companies -
like our rail riding entrepreneur - or you, or me -
become big companies.  Maybe IBM takes a loss on these
machines.  Maybe even a big loss.  But it's worth it
because by having more developers, more apps, and most
of all _new_ apps, IBM would inject vitality into the
iSeries market.  Clearly in their interest.  WSDc &
Websphere usher in a new generation of technology. 
New apps need to be developed to take advantage of
this new technology.

Additionally, software developed on the
iSeries/Developer Edition would be sold to a customer
who either has a bigger iSeries - OR - WHO IS NEW TO
THE ISERIES.  Either way, apps drive hardware sales.

This may require a radical shift in the mind set of
IBM marketing.  Compare and contrast IBM's ads which
feature corporate clones sitting around the boardroom,
with MS ads... you know the ones with the line
drawings showing a semi-beat building becoming a nice
sidewalk cafe and all the while Microsoft was there to
help you grow and realize the successful business
you're working and striving for.  IBM's ads are for
the established (older) business and MS ads are for
the new (younger) business.

Small companies become big companies, and they'll
stick with the technology they've grown up with.

Shocking pricing of awesome technology.  Call it the
shock and awe campaign, call it the iSeries/Developer
Edition, call it what you will.  But a jolt is needed
to get this market back to life.  

If such a awesome package is brought to market it
would be a boon for developers.  It would help IBM
sell more hardware.  It will also shock the
competition - in fact it will scare the hell out them!
 

It might even bring NEW developers to the platform. 
Wouldn't that be refreshing - people coming to the
platform instead of abandoning it! 

Your employer may not see the potential of the
iSeries, but you dear list reader probably do.  You
are the person IBM must target.  A vital community of
developers is in IBM's interest.  You need to let IBM
know you're out there ready to go.  Ready to develop
new apps using new technology.  But we just need some
help.


Thanks for reading this late night ramble.  What are
your thoughts?  What do you think about a laptop
iSeries/Developers Edition?  Would you buy one?


Tom Daly   (speaking only for myself)









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