Hey Tony, I’d like you to meet a friend of “Ours”

Tony SopranoTechnology can be intimidating.

Too many choices and too many options mean that many average users are intimidated and discouraged when they try and buy a new piece of equipment; especially a new PC.

Talking to strangers

I’ve often found myself talking to complete strangers in Best Buy or CompUSA because they’re standing in the aisle, staring blankly at a shelf full of options, with no idea where to start.

Other times, a couple has three of four similar products in their hands, and they’re arguing about which one to buy with no clear idea what the differences are. Afterall, when you’re a couple, you can argue about anything.

In these situations I like to step in and offer my perspective, as someone of works with technology every day.

I’m what the marketers call a “technology influencer”.

You probably are too.

What do YOU think I should do?

We’re the people our friends and family turn to when they need to buy a new piece of equipment, or when they want to know if they should upgrade to Vista, or what printer they should buy.

We have a profound effect on the success or failure of new products like the Zonbu…

Follow the money

If you follow the money that gets spent on tech back to the start of the decision making process, you usually find one of two people.

Either people who know what they want, go online, read all the reviews and are comfortable making their own decision.


People who have no idea what they want, they just have an itch they need to scratch. Instead of going online, they kick it old school, and ask their geeky friends and family what they should do.

Based on my understanding of the Zonbu target market, their core audience will likely fall almost entirely in to the second camp.

That means making us “technology influencers” as comfortable as possible with recommending the Zonbu.

Which leads me back to…

Let me ask you a question.

Would you recommend Gentoo Linux to your Mom?

Probably not. Neither would I.

Like most people, my knee-jerk reaction would be to say Ubuntu when asked for a desktop recommendation for a new-to-Linux user.

They’ve got the community, the market share, the mind-share and the relationship with Dell.

Which means, I have some comfort level that if a new user wandered in to the Ubuntu community and asked reasonable questions, they would get lots of support and encouragement.

I also know that if I need to go over and help her, I can tap a myriad of resources to assist me in solving any issues that crop up.

Do they have the best product?

Who knows, that isn’t what I was asked and I’m not going to wade in to that one.

It’s about Trust

When introducing business associates, it has been suggested that mobsters are very selective in their choice of language.

“This is a friend of ‘ours’.” has a very particular meaning and brings with it a certain endorsement

Consciously, or not, technology influencers make endorsements or present warnings about products all the time.

We inherently want to trust those we view as subject matter experts.

Don’t be the betamax

When it comes to suitability to the task, it is very important that Zonbu wins over the technology influencers and helps them get comfortable with the concept, the architecture and the delivery of the Zonbu OS stack.

Whether they are truly informed or not, and whether they are technically right or not, is not relevant.

Technology influencers need to be embraced and educated about the Zonbu and what it can do. Removing as many barriers and objections as possible is key to winning their support.

Making it as familiar as possible will breed trust.

Try and unseat a competitor who has the trust of their customers. Wait, let me get some popcorn.

Using Gentoo as the underlying base may have a strong technical foundation internally but may prove to be a major barrier to winning the support of a key audience that will dictate market success.

A VC once asked me…

A VC once asked me who my competitors were. I listed off the top three.

He said “No, your competitors are anyone who can take the money from a customer that you thought you were going to get.”.

He made a hell of a point.

As a business, you want to make it as easy as possible for someone to choose your product.

There are always other places a customer can choose to spend their time and resources. In this case, it is equally important that the key technology influencer’s have few, if any, objections or reasons to recommend other options.

“Meet the Zonbu, he’s a friend of ‘ours’.”

-Mr. Zonbu


One Response to Hey Tony, I’d like you to meet a friend of “Ours”

  1. Dave says:

    When you think about it, the amount of power ‘we’ geeks have when it comes to recommending hard/soft-ware, it’s unbelievable. Friends or families always at one point or another come to you to ask if they should get this item, or if they already bought it, if it was a good buy. The ‘beta testing’ we do gives us the knowledge to tell others what’s crap and what not. With our very own personal preference nicely mixed into it, of course.

    I showed the Zonbu website (before I had the Zonbu myself) to a friend, and he was genuinely interested. After going through the obvious questions like ‘can it run office/outlook’ or ‘will this and this work on it, too?’ are gone, he actually didn’t go through with it, mostly because he already has a computer. That’s also a big barrier for people. If they already have a computer, they don’t usually upgrade that fast, or at least not to a new, foreign system. People who are ready to upgrade, usually want to, well, upgrade. As in moving up in the scale of power, storage and what-not.

    I’m still not sure how the Zonbu would fit in the consumer market. On a big scale, I mean. For the business market I can see true possibilities, although the OS might be a slight problem. Using the Zonbu in public places like libraries, travel agencies, postal offices or what-not is definitely interesting and worth checking into, but I think for now the consumer market will mostly consist of us beta testing geeks.

    At least, that’s what I think :).

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