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RokuAnthony
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An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum

Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:02 am

An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum from Roku's CEO

Greetings,

There have been questions and controversy about the discontinuation of PhotoBridge HD1000 and HD1500. I want to try to address them in this letter.

First let me review the current status of PhotoBridge. Roku has officially discontinued the HD1000/HD1500 models. They are no longer in production. The current release of 2.0 software (available for download on www.rokulabs.com) which was in “beta” is now the final software update for these platforms.

We have not discontinued the PhotoBridge line of products. We are working on new PhotoBridge models. We have not officially announced these yet and have not committed to any particular release date. That said, it is likely that the first product from this development effort will launch in late summer. In order to set your expectations correctly, please do not assume our new models are an “HD2000”. Instead, we have identified key markets that were buying PhotoBridge, for specialized uses in some cases, and are creating products targeted at those specific markets.

Because there have been so many assumptions, accusations, and discussion (much incorrect) on this topic I want to give you a little bit of the history and the reasons we have made these decisions.

During the production of the HD1000 it became apparent that our contract manufacturer had problems. This caused us to seek out new manufacturing partners. Over the last year or so, as we created new models of our products, we have switched our production over to two new subcontract factories. Unfortunately the original HD1000 contract manufacturer continued to degrade to the point where they could no longer build the HD1000. One of the main reasons it took us so long to announce the discontinuation of the HD1000 was that we hoped to get it back in production. However, after some time it became apparent that this was just not practical. Because the product is based on “old” technology (it was designed in 2002/3 and some key parts are no longer made) we decided the appropriate use of our finite resources would be to create new updated designs. This is what we are doing. Because we don’t have the staff to continue to maintain the old design and work on the new design, we are now just focused on the “new”.

PhotoBridge HD1000 was and in many ways still is the most advanced and best designed “digital media adaptor” on the market. It won all major head-to-head reviews. But it’s not perfect, and we all have ideas on how to make it better. I know that, like us, many of you would like Roku to continue to develop the HD1000 software, adding new features and fixing limitations. However, this is just not financially possible. Roku is a small company with hardworking, talented, and dedicated people. But the consumer products market is brutally competitive, and we never made money on the HD1000. We learned a lot, however, and think by focusing our limited resources on new updated versions targeting the right market segments, the line will become profitable for us.

I have received some questions about the SDK and our plans to support third party developers. It is an important part of our strategy to continue development of our PhotoBridge APIs and to support our talented developer community. However, with our new products you will see some big changes in the way our APIs work – hopefully for the better.

I hope this helps clarify for you the status of the PhotoBridge product line, our plans, and the reasons behind our decisions. I know some of you won’t agree, and I apologize to those of you with unmet expectations, but I am confident this is the right direction.


Regards,
Anthony Wood
Founder & CEO
 
olllllo
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 3:23 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:21 pm

A soon to be deleted post...

RokuAnthony wrote:
Because there have been so many assumptions, accusations, and discussion (much incorrect) on this topic I want to give you a little bit of the history and the reasons we have made these decisions.


Incorrect assumptions, accusations, and discussion? Isn't that the reason to have a forum and actually USE it to communicate with your customers?

RokuAnthony wrote:
But the consumer products market is brutally competitive, and we never made money on the HD1000.


Being responsive to consumers is a competitive advantage/disadvantage. Using this forum to your advantage might have set your product apart from the field, instead this forum highlighted your companies strategy of ignoring it's customers. People using this forum to research this product could not help but see this.

You may not have made money on this product and I do not doubt the talent and dedication of your employees, but you certainly didn't help your cause. That seems to me the lesson that you still have not learned from all of this.


Signed:
Those of us that purchased your product subsidized your little experiment toward whatever 7 is in Japanese.

olllllo "already banned"
 
AmazinglySmooth
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:48 pm

Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:05 pm

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

I agree that the lack of support is what probably drove most people away from buy one.

Cheers
 
sansp00
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Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:29 pm

Since no more development will occur, could the 'community' have access to the code ( or parts of it ) of the OS so we could continue to make it evolve ?
It would be greatly appreciated and helpfull after all the people here went throught ( and it would be a good PR move also for your current customer base )
Thanks
Patrick S.
Roku HD1000 (revived!), R1000 x2, M1001 x2
Linksys NSLU2 with Firefly
Netgear WGR614,JGS516,GS608,GS605 x3
 
Dan Smart
Posts: 151
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:19 am
Location: Connecticut

Wed Jul 26, 2006 6:16 pm

Anthony,
Well, that's all that was needed to shut me up, but I don't think you understand why many of us were upset. It was not that you had cancelled the PhotoBridge (we had suspected that was the case for a long time, and understood your reasons) but because you apparently couldn't be bothered to inform your customers, many of whom had invested heavily in the product:

  • The independant developers who have spent thousands of hours developing products that enhanced the PhotoBridge.
  • The users who installed the betas, tested them, logged (in many cases extremely detailed) bug reports, and worked with your developers to isolate faults.
  • The users who spent extended amounts of time assisting other users.

All of whom were working for the benefit of your company, and all of whom you treated as worthless.

I hope that now perhaps you understand that if you scorn and devalue these contributors, nothing good will come of it; but if you treat them with a little respect, you've massively multiplied the size of your work force and your sales force, for a comparatively miniscule increment in overhead.

I hope that you understand that, but suspect that you do not.

Were I you, or an employee, or a prospective customer of Roku, I would be deeply concerned by the fact that Roku's name is mud everywhere but the SoundBridge forums here. Every AV forum I've visited is littered with bad stories about Roku, a lot from disaffected PhotoBridge customers, but almost all by people who feel that their grievances (real or perceived) were ignored, belittled, or blithely dismissed by Roku staff. This is not helping you sell product.

Yours Sincerely
Dan "Professional Whiner" Smart
4xM2000 2xM1000.
 
Toots Mutant
Posts: 195
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:27 am

Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:14 am

People routinely ask me whether I think they should buy a Soundbridge. I'm one of those "go to geeks" that people come to for purchasing suggestions.

I virtually always steer them to the Slim Devices products instead. Why?

Because of my experience with the support (or lack thereof) of the HD-1000. And, given past experiences with ReplayTV, I'm feeling somewhat confident that this lack of communication/abandonment/unfulfilled promises represents a pattern of management style rather than just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

You guys could have saved a whole lot of anger and rampant speculation if you said this a year ago, when it was already clear that the HD-1000 was at the end of the road. You guys could have saved a whole lot more anger and rampant speculation if, after some devos came in to assure us that the next beta or the final release would be out "real soon now", you amended the comment with an updated status that no, on second thought, you've stopped development and aren't sure if or when it'll start again.

It's a basic issue of openness and honesty. The last official words from RokuAnyone seemed to indicate that "No, it isn't discontinued" and "We're still working on the software." These were followed by a year of silence which pretty much made the original assurances look foolish at best.

So, you might come out with a new product, and on Day 1, it'll probably be missing some major features, and I'm sure you'll be there saying "No, wait! We'll get it in the next release," and the really sad/funny part is that you're probably going to expect people to trust you.

Well, you might, but we have very little track record to base any trust on.

As one formerly "gruntled" customer, I have to say that you've squandered my trust and loyalty, and in all likelihood, my future business, with that year of silence. And, I'm going to continue telling friends to look elsewhere for audio products for exactly those reasons.
 
Burkhardi
Posts: 1943
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:06 am
Location: Austin, Texas ...Y'all

The Godfather...

Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:14 am

This is just my 2-cents worth and useless opinion…

There is more to big business then most people know. I don’t know much at all, but am learning. As I push down the path of “Corporate America” I learn that more and more we don’t know all the facts… As the Godfather said, something like “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business”

Am I really bummed out about the HD1000/1500 going the way of the Dodo, yes!
Do I understand that it’s a business decision, yes.
Do I think Roku did the best they can, yes!
Am I happy that the CEO took time to make a response to us (forum folks), even though in some peoples eyes it was damage control, HECK YEA! Thank you Mr. Wood.

This shows me that they do care about us. Otherwise, why take time to make a post to some forum people that are only a small part of your customer base.

I often thought to myself why companies do things they do, why not make everyone 100%, it’s the right thing? You would go broke; you’re better off focusing on your core customers. I am that small 1% (as I assume most of us here are), 99% of people don’t know or care about things I/we want in gadgets, if a company tried to make me 100% happy they would either go broke, or never get the product out the door due to it never being ready. I have to remind myself, companies are in business to make money... bottom line!

I now understand why companies release stuff before its “ready” (in general, not saying Roku). They have two choices, wait till it’s ready and miss the boat because some other company already released their not ready for release product that both companies were racing for, or release the product, get a foot hold, then update it to make the other 10% of the people happy later.

I work at a place that had 300 people and our jobs were sent overseas and we went down to 30ish people before we were sold off. They could not be frank with us, there would have been a mass exit…it was business. I assume same for the HD1000/1500 they thought they could pull it off, it was in Mr. Wood’s response, but they kept having vendor issues. Should they come out and say “We are having issues with our vendors, we may discontinue the HD1000/1500 if we can’t fix this”, no, they would have shot them self in the foot. Even if they pulled it off, the HD1000/1500 sales would have suffered due to the frank statement that never came true.

Anyway, I’ll do all of us a favor and stop my babbling..

Just my opinion and 2-cents worth. It’s all how you view it I assume, Matt
Roku3 and Roku HD1000 [Rev B] on a Samsung HLP5674W DLP in the living room; a Roku2 and two Roku XS and a few SoundBridges.Win7; Kubuntu and XP via RT-N66U, E2000 and a switch or two. I own stock in Roku, it's just all in the form of hardware.Viva la Roku
 
DaMutha
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:52 am

Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:18 am

Just an FYI for everyone:

If you see a new digital media company or product with the name "sebun", "nanatsu", or "shichi", don't say you weren't warned.

;o)
 
jmsaul
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 7:00 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)

Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:54 am

If any of you are mad enough to get rid of your HD1000s cheap (especially Rev Bs), please let me know. I'd be lost without mine, and it sounds like I'll need a backup for a while.
 
AmazinglySmooth
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2004 7:48 pm

Re: The Godfather...

Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:01 am

Burkhardi wrote:
This is just my 2-cents worth and useless opinion…

There is more to big business then most people know. I don’t know much at all, but am learning. As I push down the path of “Corporate America” I learn that more and more we don’t know all the facts… As the Godfather said, something like “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business”

Am I really bummed out about the HD1000/1500 going the way of the Dodo, yes!
Do I understand that it’s a business decision, yes.
Do I think Roku did the best they can, yes!
Am I happy that the CEO took time to make a response to us (forum folks), even though in some peoples eyes it was damage control, HECK YEA! Thank you Mr. Wood.

This shows me that they do care about us. Otherwise, why take time to make a post to some forum people that are only a small part of your customer base.

I often thought to myself why companies do things they do, why not make everyone 100%, it’s the right thing? You would go broke; you’re better off focusing on your core customers. I am that small 1% (as I assume most of us here are), 99% of people don’t know or care about things I/we want in gadgets, if a company tried to make me 100% happy they would either go broke, or never get the product out the door due to it never being ready. I have to remind myself, companies are in business to make money... bottom line!

I now understand why companies release stuff before its “ready” (in general, not saying Roku). They have two choices, wait till it’s ready and miss the boat because some other company already released their not ready for release product that both companies were racing for, or release the product, get a foot hold, then update it to make the other 10% of the people happy later.

I work at a place that had 300 people and our jobs were sent overseas and we went down to 30ish people before we were sold off. They could not be frank with us, there would have been a mass exit…it was business. I assume same for the HD1000/1500 they thought they could pull it off, it was in Mr. Wood’s response, but they kept having vendor issues. Should they come out and say “We are having issues with our vendors, we may discontinue the HD1000/1500 if we can’t fix this”, no, they would have shot them self in the foot. Even if they pulled it off, the HD1000/1500 sales would have suffered due to the frank statement that never came true.

Anyway, I’ll do all of us a favor and stop my babbling..

Just my opinion and 2-cents worth. It’s all how you view it I assume, Matt


I think the basis for your statement is the assumption that Roku could have done nothing to prevent the situation. Was it really out of Roku's hand, or could they have finished the product, marketed it, and done much better? I think so. I am certain that such a product would never sell itself--very few do. Because Roku let the product line languish, it died. After they had let it fail, I agree that they had no choice but to put it out of its misery.

Cheers
 
Toots Mutant
Posts: 195
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:27 am

Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:09 am

And, as people have been saying for the last year,

An occasional status update would have gone a long way toward bolstering confidence in their commitment to customers. That, and instead of flatly denying that the product was hitting end-of-life, maybe even a frank admission that the decision was under review.

Marketing often gets the idea that telling unpleasant truths will make the customers flee in numbers. Well, maybe it doesn't help the bottom line any to say "We're not sure whether we're going to discontinue it or not," but the bottom line is already not being helped when the product isn't available.

In the end, I remember the broken promises, misleading statements, and if they happen, the lies. Being jerked around is what makes me an ex-customer; not honesty.
 
Burkhardi
Posts: 1943
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:06 am
Location: Austin, Texas ...Y'all

Re: The Godfather...

Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:04 am

AmazinglySmooth,
The only basis I was TRYING to make was there is more to this then we probably know, business is a tricky thing and I am just a very small part of their customer base. Plus being forthcoming can bite a company in the you know what. Also, hindsight is always 20/20.

On a personal note, there are so many items that people buy in mass quantity that I would never even think of getting just shows that I am a very, very small minority for "core customer type".

Also, in closing, it's just my opinion too, it may be way off? I am just a worker and consumer. And there is always room for improvement.

Thanks for not flaming me, on your fair feedback, Matt


I think the basis for your statement is the assumption that Roku could have done nothing to prevent the situation. Was it really out of Roku's hand, or could they have finished the product, marketed it, and done much better? I think so. I am certain that such a product would never sell itself--very few do. Because Roku let the product line languish, it died. After they had let it fail, I agree that they had no choice but to put it out of its misery.

Cheers
Roku3 and Roku HD1000 [Rev B] on a Samsung HLP5674W DLP in the living room; a Roku2 and two Roku XS and a few SoundBridges.Win7; Kubuntu and XP via RT-N66U, E2000 and a switch or two. I own stock in Roku, it's just all in the form of hardware.Viva la Roku
 
aibo
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:19 pm
Location: NY/NJ USA
Contact:

Re: An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum

Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:32 am

RokuAnthony wrote:
An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum from Roku's CEO
...
The current release of 2.0 software (available for download on www.rokulabs.com) which was in “beta” is now the final software update for these platforms.
...


Which version is considered to be a final release of version 2.0, the 2.0.34 or 2.0.36? The roculabs.com page ( http://www.rokulabs.com/support/HD10002.0Beta.php ) still referes to 2.0.34. Could ROKU staff update that page and forums to reflect the finality of the 2.0 version. A link to the final correct download would also help. Thanks.
 
Toots Mutant
Posts: 195
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:27 am

Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:40 am

Well, due to issues that they just couldn't have forseen a year ago, they aren't really able to devote the manpower to updating a couple links on their own web pages.

It's the pattern thing I was ranting about earlier.
 
chackett
Posts: 212
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:37 pm
Location: Wallingford, CT

Re: An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum

Fri Jul 28, 2006 11:11 am

aibo wrote:
RokuAnthony wrote:
An Open Letter to Members of the PhotoBridge Forum from Roku's CEO
...
The current release of 2.0 software (available for download on www.rokulabs.com) which was in “beta” is now the final software update for these platforms.
...


Which version is considered to be a final release of version 2.0, the 2.0.34 or 2.0.36? The roculabs.com page ( http://www.rokulabs.com/support/HD10002.0Beta.php ) still referes to 2.0.34. Could ROKU staff update that page and forums to reflect the finality of the 2.0 version. A link to the final correct download would also help. Thanks.

Theoretically, 2.0.36 should be best, because it give better streaming performance from SMB shares (it's what I'm using); however, some people have had issues with it, and there does seem to be a bug that causes long delays before m4a files load.

Not an issue with me, but it might be with someone else; hopefully they'll leave them both accessable.
Roku HD1000 Rev B
Pioneer Elite 50" Plasma
Artison Portrait LCR
Polk 60ti L, R, LR, RR
Velodyne DD-18 Subwoofer
Yamaha RX-V2500
Motorola DCT-6412
Home Theater Master MX-3000

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