The Zonbu is in “Public Beta” – WTH?

I just read this over at (Dated August 2, 2007), and I am officially pissed off:

“Though the Zonbu is on sale now, it is still officially in an unfinished “public beta” mode, and engineers are hard at work fixing many of the problems…”

Yes, and I’m hard at work finding more.

What the hell?

I don’t see anywhere on the main site where it says the product I’m buying is a “public beta”. I don’t recall agreeing that the product may not be full baked yet but that I didn’t mind.

I read all kinds of great marketing material that made me feel all warm and fuzzy. The term public beta did not come up once. Did I miss it all? Did you other buyers know the company considers the current release to be “public beta”?

During the purchase experience I didn’t notice any reference to a “public beta” either.

I feel lied too, although it does explain some of the issues I’m seeing.

This is no way to start a relationship. Zonbu needs to step up and explain themselves.

-Mr. Zonbu

8 Responses to The Zonbu is in “Public Beta” – WTH?

  1. Gregg says:

    Mr. Zonbu, remember my posts here…

    about my considering buying the Koolu before I found the Zonbu?

    As I already said, I sent them an email telling them how they lost my sale to Zonbu and suggested some fixes to their site they should make if I were to consider buying a Koolu in the future. I just received replies from the CEO Andrew Greig and the CTO Jon “maddodg” Hall. They thanked me for my input and may even send me a free Koolu to review and compare to the Zonbu. I mentioned your blog in my reply back, and some of the posts I made here about the Koolu. I also said it might be possible for me to post a guest review here comparing the two devices, as well as posting it on my own site, which will be which I just registered (site’s not up yet though). That is, assuming your kind offer to allow me to write a guest post stll stands. I gave them the link to this blog, so it’s possible you may be hearing from Koolu and getting a test unit yourself.

  2. Gary says:

    Hi..I’m not a zonbu buyer but have been following the zonbu and now the Koolu story and did know that the zonbu was still in beta for three more months and that was why they are giving those three months of free service to early buyers. Speaking of Ubuntu…I would love to know if one of these Ubuntu USB pen drives would simply plug in..boot up and work with the zonbu or the koolu thin client since their selling them for what I think are very reasonable prices.
    I’ve never bought anything from this site but found this complete pc with a choice of OS’s including ubuntu and I think freespire with shipping for under $200 of interest.

  3. mrzonbu says:

    Actually, the Shop link on the Zonbu site says nothing of the 3 months being related to a beta. And it only is granted if you pay either 1 or 2 years in advance. If you select the monthly payment plan, the 3 months free goes away, but I’m assuming you’re still on beta hardware. So I’m not sure I agree with you on that.

    -Mr. Zonbu

  4. Gary says:

    Can’t find the info now but from what I read they they said they were releasing them for sale early because they thought the hardware was ready but that the os still needed some tweaking. Their site has changed so much and has so many different sections it’s hard to find what your looking for but I agree it should spell out beta in big bold letters. I think all websites could learn something from the Yahoo Store system websites when it comes to ease of use.

  5. I will try to clarify the situation:

    – First, the term beta has been used in so many different ways for the past five years, what does it mean? Google News has been in beta for more than a year while it seemed to me totally stable and didn’ t change when they removed the sign. Was it really in beta or was it a marketing coup? Should we consider Vista as a release before RC1 is out??? How many companies/institutions are waiting for Vista RC1 before buying it because they consider that it’s the true release of this OS? Everybody has its own interpretation of what beta means.

    – When I met all the journalists, I said that the hardware was final and the software was in good shape to go out but probably needs some bug fixes. For example, it was not possible to test all the 1500 USB printers and 800 cameras we claim to support. We state this support because libgphoto2 and cups state it and they have done a lot of tests. But not by us and integrated with Zonbu. It’s one of the problems reported by Salon.

    – Internally, there were some debates if we should have an official “beta” program, or we should call it ” early access program” or whatever. Hence a fluctuation in the naming.

    – Moreover, We haven’ t controlled the date which the first article went out. And some parts of the website was not totally polished at that time. Remember: we are a start-up 😉 When Mr. Zonbu bought his device, there was no “beta” or “early customer access program” or whatever mention. It was an error as we had been pressed by the schedule. It’s my responsibility and I apologize for the very first customers if they have been misunderstood. It was not intentional.

    – We then added a mention on the shop page. The mention perhaps is not clear enough. We are not trying cheating. There is so much information on the website (it’ s a new concept, all the specs…), it’s hard to fit everything on our domain name. We are currently working on some improvements of our website.

    – Once again, the interpretation of what beta means is the key point here. Some beta software are full of bugs. Others are in good shape. We opened our store and contacted the press because we considered that Zonbu was fully usuable: final hardware and software tested as much as possible internally. It would be hard to compare, but do we have less or more bugs than Vista? Is Vista compatible with all the USB accessories they claim to be compatible with?

    – Also I want to point out that we silently push any required update and we even pushed the past update to those who have not bought a plan – which should not have been the case.

    – Last, as for the three months free, there is some grey shade here too. It’s not specifically linked to this situation: it’s a marketing promotion as Zonbu is available. But as we knew that we would get some bug reports, we thought that it was a good point to offer three months, the time to release a few more patches.

  6. mrzonbu says:


    Thank you for taking the time to clarify.

    While i don’t necessarily agree with everything you say, I give you high marks for addressing my concerns in a public forum.

    -Mr. Z

  7. […] I guess Gregoire (Zonbu CEO) and I may agree on what beta is afterall… (You can, and should, read his comment, found on this post, about the the whole “beta” concept.) […]

  8. […] company has since come forward and clarified that they consider the hardware to be final, but that the software is con… at this […]

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