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The sad MojoPac saga continues…

Mojopac

…or how NOT to launch a product. I gushed about the new MojoPac product a while back, and for good reason. It’s a brilliant implementation of a virtual PC environment which you can carry around on any USB enabled device. So far so good. What’s not so good is the fact that the company appears to be shooting itself in the head over a series of launch decisions which are going drastically wrong. I see the issue has now reached the Digg pages, so thought it might be time to set out the facts and see what’s gone wrong and why… 

The problem is simple. The initial beta of the product did as advertised. It loaded on every USB device you could think of, and you could run your personal PC environment on any hardware out there as long as it was running Windows XP. There were a few limitations, namely the host machine has to be in Admin mode, but basically it was a great plug and run product.

Suddenly the company changed the configuration on General Release, so that the USB device needed a serial number in order to work. This meant that all of a sudden all USB 1.0 devices stopped working (despite the fact that the program can operate perfectly well on USB 1.0) and a bunch of USB 2.0 USB products with incorrect serial number implementations failed too. The company claimed that they introduced the serial number change because they wanted to protect user security, but most people quickly realised that it was simply a form of copy protection to ensure that people didn’t hand the software to their friends to run on their USB keys. Which is a fair enough goal really.

Now, here’s where it gets messy. The company refused to admit the copy protection issue, saying first that the problems were caused by a bug, then back-tracked and claimed that the problems were caused by non-compatible USB 2.0 devices. They then closed down the user forums just at the time that someone posted a workaround to make the serial number problem go away using an open source product called TrueCrypt. The company said they shut the forums because they needed revamping, the users smelled a rat and recriminations started flying to and fro. Still with me? Good. Well that’s the situation to date and it’s not a great reflection on the product, the company or its embryonic customer relations policies.

So here’s how NOT to launch a product and lose your mojo.

a) You cannot launch a beta product which runs perfectly, then introduce an update that breaks it and expect your fledgling early adopter users to stay silent and compliant. Especially when it’s clear that it’s a copy protection issue which you refuse to acknowledge. You come across as dishonest, even if you’re not.

b) You then cannot treat your users like idiots while you scramble around trying to fix your copy protection scheme. You cannot claim that users are ‘demanding security’, and ignore their requests for more information, workarounds and timelines. Shutting a user forum at this point is about as stupid a decision as you can make. Now’s the time for more discussion, not less. Revamp? Aw, c’mon.

c) No matter how many bloggers, journalists and other influencers you approach behind the scenes, you will not hide the truth of the problem, the cause or the potential solution. It’s teh interweb, duh?

d) What you do create is an atmosphere of distrust and anger, and an excuse for people to suggest substitute products and bad mouth your fledgling product. Already there are alternatives being touted on the net, including Moka5, which is not as flexible, but definitely worth looking at.

e) RingCube, the developers, and particularly Mr Shan Appajodu, the CEO (because the buck certainly stops with him) have to realise that you get one chance as a small company to impress your early adopters and encourage loyalty so they go out and promote for you, and if you destroy that relationship, you leave the door open for your rivals – and there will be a lot of rivals for this tech soon, no question – to step into the breach and grab your business segment away from you. You can be patronising and treat your users like children when you’re Microsoft, but absolutely not when you’re a small startup. No matter how cool your product is.

So there we have it. A potentially superb product being clumsily mis-managed into existence. What a shame! My suggestion to RingCube and Mr Appajodu is that they stop the fudging, delays, excuses and behind the scenes mis-information campaign and come clean. Then they should revert the technology immediately, so that it runs as well and as universally as the beta version and worry about the copy protection later on, when there’s some way to implement it properly and with minimal impact. In this way they might regain the loyalty and trust of their early fans and dig themselves out of a very unpleasant marketing hole indeed.

20 Comments

  • So, where does one find the original version, i neglected to download it when i read about it here first.

  • As it turns out, the TrueCrypt work-around seems to work, though if you’re not familiar with how TrueCrypt works (like me!), it’s a little confusing. And I think it also means that when you start MojoPac from the encrypted volume, you can’t seem to access any of the other storage devices on your machine. I don’t know whether this is the case if you’re running off an iPod without TrueCrypt (cause the closed down the forum before I could ask anyone else!!) but it means that any data or docs you want to use in MP mode, you need to transfer it across to the encrypted drive while you’re in host mode.

    Anyway, thanks for the updates, haven’t had time to scour the blogs recently, and yours is the only one I check regularly!

    Keep up the good work!

    Charlotte

  • Want to add to how NOT to launch a product. The trial only works for 99 launches or 30 days (truth is that 99 launches is less than 15 days, at least for me). So what do you do when the trial runs out? You click on the PURCHASE NOW button… but wait… there’s no online store yet. So you get to run around using the trial for 15-30 days and then get locked out because they haven’t gotten around to setting up the online store. So no way to get a valid serial key.

    Any one got a cracked key or keygen for this yet? Cause we could all use it. I’d love to pay for this product, but hard to pay when they are not accepting any money.

  • For more information on MojoPac problems you can read my blog post

    I’ve found more problems since this writing, but I’m get fed up with the whole thing, especially the behaviour of the MojoPac folks.

  • How about cutting Ringcube some slack and updating your blogs with the latest information? It appears that they are trying to make a sincere effort.

    Oct 8, 2006
    SUBJECT: Update on MojoPac version 1.0.1, MojoPac Store and MojoPac Forums

    Dear MojoPac’ers,

    Since we were officially launched two weeks ago, the response to MojoPac has been incredible – we really appreciate all your support. As a new company with a new product, we are working around the clock to enhance the product and your experience as a user, and we do our best to incorporate suggestions made in your feedback regarding features and improvements. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for having been such a great user community.

    We thought we’d take the time to update you on a few things:

    MojoPac 1.0.1: A patch for MojoPac, version 1.0.1, is scheduled to release on October 12, 2006. This patch includes the following improvements:
    Increase the number of boots during Trial. This patch will grant you an additional 100 boots of MojoPac so that you can try the product more extensively for free.
    Expand the types of devices you can use to install MojoPac. MojoPac 1.0 was designed to support installation on all USB 2.0 compliant storage devices. We added this feature to improve reliability and software security (making it harder to copy MojoPac and any installed applications from your device). Even though the majority of USB Storage Devices are standards compliant (all iPods work great, as well as majority of USB hard drives and Flash devices), we realized that some devices that use the USB 2.0 sticker (including a few USB external cases for hard drives) are not fully compliant with the USB 2.0 standard, and as such, MojoPac would not install on those devices (hence the errors some of you encountered with respect to lack of valid serial number, which is an essential part of the USB 2.0 standard).

    We have been working directly with hard drive manufacturers to see if we can find a way around this issue, and the great news is that MojoPac Version 1.0.1 will allow you to install on all USB hard drives with external cases, which we believe is the ideal setting to use MojoPac– USB external hard drives provide performance and storage capacity that you need.

    We changed the logic in our code between MojoPac Beta-4 and MojoPac 1.0; the change resulted in some previously working devices to no longer work. We apologize for this inconvenience. MojoPac 1.0.1 will allow your USB hard drives to work again.

    We’ve taken care to ensure that as many USB 2.0 storage devices are supported as we can. However there are some non-USB 2.0 compliant flash devices that will not be MojoPac compatible – MojoPac cannot be used on these devices. Further, we know of at least 2 USB external hard drives (neither ones are popular brands) that show a very strange behavior (they show different serial IDs when connected to different PCs). We are working with the manufacturers to see if they have a solution for this behavior.

    Some users have communicated to us that MojoPac works on non-USB storage devices like FireWire and SD/Flash cards. Please note that these are NOT currently supported configurations and might not work in MojoPac Version 1.0.1 and our future versions.
    A fix for a majority of the RS1 errors some of you have been seeing. As it turns out, most of the RS1 errors are caused by the same root cause, and we believe the fix we’ve implemented should resolve most of them.
    Improved error reporting. We have also included more diagnostic information in error reports that are sent to help us help you more. As always, you can review the report before sending.
    Automatic Update. Please note that Trial versions of MojoPac will automatically self update to the latest version when connected to a host machine with an active Internet connection. Automatic-update preferences are configurable in the purchased (full) version of MojoPac, so you can disable automatic updates in your purchased version if you like.
    We’d also like to clarify that we are still working on a fix for another bug – namely that MojoPac won’t work on machines where Windows is not installed under the standard directory of C:\WINDOWS (for example, machines where Windows is installed under D:\WINDOWS or C:\WINNT). The fix for this is not part of MojoPac 1.0.1, but we will keep you posted on the status of the fix. MojoPac Store: We really appreciate your enthusiasm and interest to purchase MojoPac! Due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening of our store has been delayed. The issues have been resolved, and our store is currently going through extensive QA and testing. The store is scheduled to open on October 16, 2006. The deadline to receive our special promotional price of $29.99 will be extended to November 16, 2006, and the extra boots we are providing should allow you to use your MojoPac extensively in the interim.

    MojoPac Forums: We have taken a lot of effort to organize and design our Support Forums based on your feedback. Many of you asked us to have a Forum that addresses the top questions you have about using MojoPac quickly and efficiently, and to constantly update the list of these top questions to reflect the latest status of MojoPac, and also provide the flexibility to allow user-generated comments. We believe our new forum format will provide our users with a great place to share their thoughts on our product, obtain beneficial information from other users, and get quick help from our forum staff. To this end, we have taken several steps to revamp our forums.
    We have implemented a frequently updated FAQ system inside our forum software to provide easy to access answers to common questions. One of the shortcomings of our previous forum structure, which was more unstructured and free form, was that there was no way to easily get questions answered. The same questions were being asked repeatedly in different threads, with varying answers from other users and forum staff. We feel that our new system will answer many of the repeated questions in a standard place, with responses from MojoPac team clearly marked and easy to find.
    We continue to increase our forum staff, to help get answers to you in a timely fashion.
    We reorganized the thread groups in the forums to align with the types of questions users were posing. Our previous forum had many groups that were underutilized and many groups that quickly filled with not so relevant threads.
    Similar to all top Forums on the web, our main forum page will contain a link to a list of guidelines that all forum participants are expected to adhere to. For example, everyone is encouraged to report bugs and point out shortcomings in the product, but no one is allowed to resort to any flame baits or post personally hurtful comments about other MojoPac users. These guidelines will be enforced by the forum staff.

    Our restructured forum is scheduled to open on October 12, 2006.

    Thank you for all your support and we believe you will have a great experience using the updated MojoPac.

    Sincerely
    MojoPac Team

  • That should have been posted as a link VERY messy.

  • Yeah and Larry’s a bit of a spammy poster, since I’ve seen the exact same post on another site. Wonder who he works for? :-)

  • First of all, I am sorry for not posting as a link, and do apologize. That was inconsiderate and an oversight. I have absolutely no connection with Ringcube/Mojopac. In fact, I had posted comments on the Mojpac forum about problems I’d had with the installation of several applications on Mojo — I could not install Adobe Acrobat Professional 6.0, and after MS Office XP was activated, and I connected my external drive to another machine, an activation message popped up. I am simply an interested party who is quite disgusted with the caustic comments being posted, the latest of which is an implication that I do have a connection with Ringcube or Mojopac. Again — I have no connection. And yes, I did do the same posting on another site (albeit with some typos) since both of these blogs seemed the most active with regard to the ongoing issues. I felt it was only fair that the most up-do-date information be posted. That’s all.

  • “That’s all.” – I really hope so :)

  • Hey, let’s cut Larry some slack. :-) Thanks for the heads up we’re now all just waiting until the new version arrives to see how well it shapes up under fire. It must be tricky launching a new product, but having the wrong attitude really makes it infinitely worse. I’m hoping that their PR department is learning fast…. :-)

  • Neville, thanks for that, it’s an interesting comment. Didn’t really stop to consider the effect of this software on software producers. BTW I tidied up your link a bit. :-)

  • Red, I’m supposed to be talking to the MojoPac CEO, Shan Appajodu tomorrow, about the issues I raised in my blog post. I currently see no indication that they’ve resolved these issues.

    End-users are only interested in getting MojoPac working, which is fair enough, but folks like me whose livelihood comes from developing and publishing software, face a different set of problems.

    There can be no doubt that MojoPac have played the cards they were dealt badly and only time will tell whether they can recover from the mess they’ve put themselves in. As someone whose been writing software for a very long time, I can’t see how the problems I’ve raised can be resolved, as MojoPac currently stands.

    I also eluded to other problems in my earlier comment. These will make MojoPac a far less attractive proposition for many people. I don’t want to say more until after I’ve talked to Mr. Appajodu.

    This saga has me yet again scratching my head and wondering about the way VC’s work. More on this later, if I can be bothered.

    What we need now is action from Mojopac, not more lame stories and excuses.

  • It still doesnt seem to exist any keygen or crack.. – dammit…
    ..
    is it impossible to crack this program?

  • Sorry Renaiel, this is not a crack site. We’re simply hoping that the program works as well as it could so that people can legitimately buy and run it. You’ll need to look elsewhere for that kind of stuff really. :-)

  • And anyway, it’s not like it’s THAT expensive! What, 15 odd, and then even cheaper for additional licences? I’m buying mine when the store opens!

  • Now that theirs update have broken almost everyones mojopac…

    ..how about cracking this program up.. making it work smoothly again!?!?

    -I am never going to buy anything from a company that treats their clients like dogs. and btw 15 here in Brazil can feed you for a month.

  • There is a very interesting article on Mojopac in today’s Wall Steet Journal

  • Makrand, yes great, thanks. Always interesting to hear from Walt. I still think the product is a great idea, even with the hiccups. :-)

  • 15 can feed you in England for a month too, as long as you like Tesco value beans, might not have any friends by the end of the month though :)

    I think the products great if you have a use for it :)

  • Any fix for the Acrobat 6.0 install error? I have the same problem.

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