Archive for the 'Greg van den Dries' Category

Canon, a new service standard

We’ve all read the horror stories; bad-tempted service people, insane refund requirements, etc. We quickly spread the word over the net partly to get even with the companies that screw us and partly to help our fellow consumers avoid that same situation we just endured. 

But how often do we take the time to write about a company that quietly goes out of its way to give excellent service or is so forward thinking and logical that their entire systems and procedures are designed to delight the consumer? Not very often unfortunately.

So here’s one.

I’ve been a loyal Canon consumer for 15+ years; i’ve purchased everything from printers to cameras and everything in between. The products have always been top notch in quality and compatibility. But they do wear out and break after years of use and that’s when the service organization either gives us reasons to continue our loyalty or move elsewhere.

So how did Canon react when my camcorder that was over 2 years old developed a nagging case of zoomitis?? 

I’ll tell you but a few details are in order.

First, the problem seemed to be epidemic; a quick google search confirmed that many consumers who had a similar camcorder experienced this problem. 

Second, no recall was every issued nor were any service bulletins published. It was one of those quite problems that plague most CE manufacturers. 

So with that said, i went online and submitted a repair request using a very convenient and logical web system. I then printed out the appropriate forms, threw it in a box with the camcorder and shipped it to Canon fully expecting them to contact me and tell me it would cost $100+ for repair since it was out of warranty. Expecting the worse i was prepared to point out they had a design flaw and even though this product was out of warranty i expected them to stand by their products. If that wasn’t successful i was prepared to drop it as the camcorder had done its duty rather well over the years and i had already purchased a new HD Canon camcorder. 

I then went on vacation. I checked email occasionally and never saw anything from Canon. I figured they had probably sent a letter to my home or worse sent the entire camorder back to me with a note saying “sorry”.

To my very pleasant surprise I found a freshly repaired camcorder sitting in my house at zero cost to me!

So why is this important? 

It’s not that i got something that i shouldn’t have or i got something for free. What i got was respect. Canon basically said to me “even though we don’t have any responsibility to fix this, we’re going to anyway because we beleive this is the best way to build loyalty”. And we’re they ever right in my case.

We’re all individual consumers and have unique ideas and needs when it comes to these types of issues. I hope Canon realizes that there are in fact many of us out here that are legit consumers who simply want to keep buying their products as long as we’re treated fairly. 

All i can say is Canon has my business both now and in the future as long as they keep showing me that they care enough to do the right thing, which in this case was good for me and great for them. 


Park Play

As Nikka and I waited for Break Away bike to open in Saratoga, we decided to quote Shakespeare on, of course the public stage in the local park (next door to the bike shop). Dinner theater is safe for another 12 years in my book…. img_0034.jpg 

The Folio, Oh-nolio!

Um, a lot has already been written about the Fonio Folio but i had to put my 2 cents in.



Indeed, i agree that the Treo can’t do it all – it has issues with attachments, email and web browsing. The Treo (and others like it) shine when you’re in a pinch and need to reply quickly with a short bursty message, or look up an address using Google maps, or you know the drill….I’ve often thought about how the Treo would be better if it had a larger keyboard and screen.

Then I whip out my Powerbook and forget those useless thoughts as my fingers fly over my silky smooth and silver keyboard, WiFi auto connects in that magical Mac way and I summon my creative mojo to hack out an over-stated, yet ever important email response to my wife about something i should have had on my calendar but didn’t.

As I close the lid on my Mac i chuckle at what a foolish product a larger Treo would be – not because it doesn’t solve a problem, but because the economics don’t work. A $500-600 product that does half of what a notebook does just doesn’t make sense.

Keep in mind that we often toyed with an idea very close to the Folio while at Think Outside. In fact we even presented “polo” to Palm several times but they never bit – guess they were smarter back then.



And now, we have the product that the press claims was going to salvage Palm. While i can’t believe that Palm is placing all bets on the success of this one product, the Folio represents all that is right and wrong with Palm.

They get major props for having the gonads to put something like this in the market – lets face it, this had a high degree of risk and they went for it anyway. I personally applaud them for not doing what large companies typically do – play it safe.

On the other hand, ouch. This doesn’t look like Hawkins, this looks like a committee product.

Compounding this is the fact that right now, there are some kick ass products coming to market from all their competitors (RIM, Apple, MS, HTC, Samsung, LG, etc).

We sold over 2M portable keyboards thru Palm during our run with them at Think Outside. Who knows, maybe the Folio will find a niche and people won’t mind buying a notebook and phone pairing for $600-700 instead of a fully functional notebook and cell phone.

Personally i wish Palm would make a Treo that could run without re-charging every 5 hours.



VoIP and Nortel: part deux


Talked to my friend at Fonality. The day after the “incident” every VoIP blog picked up the story. Guess what happened? Every metric – number of inbound calls, deals closed, web traffic and revenue doubled or tripled for Fonality the next day. Talk about a spike!

I can only guess what happened over at Brand X. The net is truly the great equalizer, no?

VoIP and Blog Power: the larger they get, the dumber

My friend Arnold over at Fonality sent me an interesting, funny and sad article about how Nortel and one of their subs turned a mole-hill into a mountain.

It’s sad really. Why can’t large corporations get out of their own way?

I’ll tell you: size and mindset.The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

They have become so bloated (even though technology has provided productivity gains that would allow them to contain this bureaucratic growth) that they can’t see that you can no longer hide behind your largeness. The simple fact is this: a small startup with good (not even great) technology that embraces good soft-marketing principals (honesty, fairness, compassion and performance) and the net can outperform, maybe even beat a company 20X its size.

These soft-marketing principals don’t replace the need for maniacal management of the marketing mix (price, product, promotions, pipeline) but they go a long way towards helping a small company gain momentum which is exactly what Nortel should be concerned about.

This is why it is comical. Instead of chalking this up to competition and learning from it, Nortel went into defensive mode. Now they look even more like a incompetent, lazy company pushing their over-priced antiquated solutions on companies that are afraid of change.

I’ve always said that people and companies hate change because it can make you look dumb. There’s comfort in predictability no mater how outmoded the solution or business model is.

So who’s looking dumb right now, the little or big guy?


Throw your TV away.

Click here for Ray Kurzweil

Click here for Malcom Gladwell

Click here for Jeff Han

Click here for Eva Vertes

Click here for Bono



OK, so I’ve been looking at a lot of companies lately and some of them are really good. There seems to be several hot-spots right now; alternative fuels, video and wireless.

The valley really seems to be moving rapidly; maybe its the reality of exponential growth that Ray Kurzweil talks about in his new book. The net is it’s driving me crazy that I can’t talk about some of these really great companies I’m working with.

DVC Labs and Ardica are top-notch, game-changing companies with really great people. Stay tuned for more, I’m about to burst blog.

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