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Creative destruction?

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There is a backlash happening against Creative, a company that:

told programmer Daniel_K to stop writing his own drivers for their X-Fi sound cards. The cards still won’t work on Vista over a year after the OS was released, because Creative hasn’t released drivers for them—but by Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s account, Daniel_K is “stealing” from Creative by making the cards work.

Geeky? You bet. Important? See what people say, the intensity and their actions and watch the ‘consumer‘ breaking out of neat demographics and managed spin.

The interesting aspect of this is that the company didn’t do anything that wasn’t their right to do. Copyright, IP, products, support and yet, what they have done stinks to high heaven of arrogance, complacency and of doing something very stupid in the age of the demand side can supplying itself – trying to reclaim their position of old where they are the only ones able to supply what they sell…

As a commenter on the Creative forum thread about this puts it:

Daniel may very well have stepped on some copyright rules, and Creative had the lawful option of doing what they did. Score 100 on the law, score minus several millions for not doing the job themselves in the first place, and putting someone like Daniel in a position where he had to do what he did, just to get the customers of this company happy.

The distinction between supply and demand, especially in the technology/software industry, is fuzzy. You want a community of developers helping your product or market or industry? Watch the edges of your kingdom stretch and flex until there is a kingdom no more and your best chance is to become the first among equals. And understand that is Good Thing.

Obviously, with the likes of Microsoft and Apple we are certainly not there yet. So let me just point out that if your business behaviour gets so glaringly overwritten by common sense, you have a problem.

The communications aspect of this case is equally interesting if not new:

Rule of thumb for bad news in the mainstream media: release it Friday so it’s buried over the weekend. Rule of thumb for the web: don’t infuriate thousands of your customers right before you decide to tune out for 48 hours.

damage-control.jpg
this is
now on the back of my business card as a useful reminder..

via dropsafe

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4 Responses to “Creative destruction?”


  1. Crosbie Fitch
    on Apr 1st, 2008
    @ 14:15 pm

    You say “The interesting aspect of this is that the company didn’t do anything that wasn’t their right to do.”

    Yes they did.

    It would be more accurate to say “The company didn’t do anything that wasn’t their privilege to do.”

    Creative are enjoying their commercial privileges to control the use of their patented technology and copyrighted materials.

    Such privileges necessarily trample over the rights of the public – a public that never agreed to the suspension of their rights (supposedly in their best interests according to their elected representatives several centuries ago).

    A company may get away with enforcing its monopolistic privileges against other companies (because companies have no rights), however, they will come unstuck when enforcing them against human beings.


  2. Adriana
    on Apr 1st, 2008
    @ 14:23 pm

    Crosbie, agreed. By ‘right’ I meant legal right as you can see in the paragraph quoted below that.

    And this does fit in with the larger debate about copyright, IP and how they clash with the balance of power shifts online.


  3. Crosbie Fitch
    on Apr 1st, 2008
    @ 15:37 pm

    For feminists, checking masculine language and the subliminal assumptions it engendered was necessary to help deprogram entrenched male chauvinism.

    The same process needs to occur to help deprogram corporate chauvinism, i.e. to remove the assumption that a corporation is superior or even equal to a human being.

    People need to be reminded of the fundamental difference between immortal corporations and human beings, and the unethical privileges of the former over the latter – as well to remind humans of their equality with each other, that none should enjoy a privilege of suspending the rightful liberty of another, including their cultural liberty.

    We create privileges such as copyright to benefit corporations and pretend we’ve given them to citizens. Inevitably only corporations have the power to exert such privileges over each other, and in recent times, over citizens.

    So, I’m not correcting your meaning, so much as attempting to decorrupt this insidious language of corporate rights that you’ve used.

    Those who wish their privileges to be given a veneer of legitimacy and respectability have unsurprisingly preferred to use the term ‘legally created right’ or ‘legal right’ rather than privilege, and predictably, happily shortened it to ‘right’ for brevity.

    And so, corporations and the people they represent pretend their mercantile privileges are as morally wholesome and self-evident as any rights a citizen could possibly have.


  4. Common sense says collaborate « Peter Parkes
    on Apr 2nd, 2008
    @ 22:03 pm

    [...] wrote yesterday about ‘creative destruction’ — referring to the recent decision by Creative to threaten legal action against a [...]

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