Some time ago, a Dutch technologies’ guru told me this phrase:
“Honestly, I am surprised about what Manifold’s page says” “What happens is that I’ve never seen running it on a machine”
This week, Patrick Webber – from Spatial Knowledge – has made a reckless statement that is sure it has been shaken the same creators’ beard of this tool. Although they… don’t believe have beard, but I bring it as a reflection to track my predic – tions about this year.
Which is the problem of Manifold?
Patrick is based on the theory of Geoffrey A. Moore, which in his book “Crossing the Chasm“, posed about life cycle that happens in the adoption of information technology products. One of these crucial stages is called by him Chasm, where software requires sustain steady growth while is being embraced by buyers of early will, to avoid the risk of never reaching a market’s representative segment.
Patrick speaks clearly about his satisfaction caused by the innovative level of Manifold creative business, the pricing model and the user’s cooperation in the forum. But criticizes a rather sensitive issue in business format, because this emphasis in not having resellers or representatives rather than on its own page, although helps to have an acceptable price, may be a funnel that is slowing its growth.
For this he brings statistics from Manifold forum, which proves what we all assume: People who have a 7x version don’t find any reason to switch to 8x and is waiting to see what happens with the dreamed 9x to decide whether to move or no. It can be fully satisfied, but if a migration accounts just $ 50 per license, they would have to think about other drastic implications such as reformatting irreversible, because, as an example, you can not pass a .map from version 8 to 7 and this implies migrating all existing licenses. Nor saying about the constructed development or the user manuals, which are due to develop because Manifold only offers the “help me” in its own way.
What may be happening, then, is that Manifold will remain being that nice space rocket for egeomaters (Spanish Idiom: “geofumados” in this case means: the “geek” users) but it will never be attractive to ordinary users. It can be justified on the grounds they want –which surely exists– but scratching nuts to ESRI requires more than having a better software than ArcGIS, –which in many ways it is and many are-. It needs a community, to have allies who also earn, a geographic location in another language, support not based on tokens, including “technical evangelists” and piracy, ironically.
At no time the software is diminished, but all in a certain moment have worked in normal companies in which to place an order requires a human contact, from there it demands a process of support, training and renewal of licenses (all paid of course). The same Bentley Systems has its barrier to handle their sales on a regional basis, which works but delays transactions because of not being local currency tend to have extra processing. Nor saying Manifold’s case, which sale should be online with credit card, realizing that no standard municipality and not all companies have one; and, for those who have lived through, we know that purchases via bank transfer have their level of complexity in conventional environments.
Ah! I forgot about the support. A Manifold license comes with two tokens, for only two unique questions to support. If you want more, you pay for it; the idea is not bad, but we have to see whether it’s functional. The fact isn’t to spoil (Spanish idiom: “chinear”) people, but it isn’t sufficient the three invitation words to buy software: “Install – Launch – Learn“, because it’ll be difficult to convince a boss that in the operational plan for the new year, it is required to leave a budget for 15 tokens or pay to the Geofumadas’ editor for an assistance via chat :).
In conclusion: Manifold is a great software, but it is not growing. Although version 8 already exists in the torrents, sign that is becoming popular, very few people on the Web are talking about its capabilities, less about satisfaction with care model customer. If this remain so, it will continue as an exclusive expert’s group toy, and will lose popularity as a GIS practical solution – which is what it really is-. And all of us know the final chapter of this type of novels.
What to expect
Well, on one hand it would be better for Manifold’s friends to low their arrogance. In particular, without discrediting the software which seems a wonder for me, that I use constantly and from which I have spoken too much (Spanish Idiom: “hasta por las orejas”), I have read in the forum answers to queries that don’t have the warmth of a seller but of a President of the Bolivarian Alliance saying “This is my government, I’m the boss here, and the one who don’t like it, must change channels”).
With the apologies, of course, for those who like that sort of treatment and visits me from the Southern Cone’s countries. But, if in Gabriel Ortiz’s forum – a free one – we have lost friends for bad responses, some words must be said about a space where software developers respond- and is not for free-.
One day I questioned its advertising department, another its business ethics, and today, I insist on what some assure: a good coach, not necessarily is a good manager, a great genius is around to be a lousy businessman. There are specialties, and any guru of technologies that aim at software vendor will require a basic course in customer service and that his marketer will give him early lessons of what is not in the API of .NET.
What will happen with Manifold? That definitely depends on its creators. In my opinion, I think Patrick’s warning should have a positive echo.