Tuesday, September 20, 2005

On Vendor Weirdness

Well, not really 'weirdness' per-se, but I still had to write about this. Oracle for some time now has made its software available for download under a developer license on OTN. Apart from a lot of other things, one of the key restrictions of this license is that you cannot use the software so downloaded for "...internal data processing or for any commercial or production purposes...". But the software can be downloaded free - the database, application server, business intelligence, everything.

Now, a week back or so, I tried registering for a webcast of a BI vendor's new product release launch. I will not name the vendor, but those keyed in on BI and BI vendors should know who I am talking about. They had a link on their site that allowed you to register for the event. So far so good. Now, the page that I went to had about a zillion things I was asked to fill out - which again I am willing to live with. After all, lead generation is a vital activity for any firm that wishes to sell its products / services.

After duly entering my email address, on clicking the 'submit' button, I was displayed a popup message, "This event is currently full, and is not accepting any more registrations. Thank you for your interest." My first reaction was to accept it at face value and forget about it. But then, I realized that the page hadn't even been submitted - the response, the popup was instantaneous! Upon viewing the source code of the web page, I saw a piece of JavaScript code that checked for the domain of the email address, and if it were from either Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, or from a bunch of other BI vendors, then they simply displayed this popup message!!

Why this sneakiness, and that too sneakiness that is so easily discovered?! I could maybe understand, if not accept, the fact that they did not want their competitors attending or viewing the webcast, but why these juvenile contrivances? Why not simply state that competitors are not welcome at this webcast? It reminded me of (yet) another BI vendor that simply blocks the oracle.com domain from registering for any webcasts or downloading white papers.

Is it because the company missed its quarterly earnings this year, and is perhaps, just a wee bit, scared?
(As for the webcast itself, if I were to describe it in two words, it would be "hugely underwhelming".)