Since we mentioned Vlingo we have been receiving a ton of emails and comments with complaints about the software. I could not believe what readers were claiming so I decided to try it myself. I was disappointed to say the least.
Then I got this rant from Harold and had to share. I think this is an important lesson that Vlingo has learned the hard way. Releasing a service/software without the correct quality assurance has led to thousands of people being disappointed and turned off from their service. This is a lesson all developers should take to heart. Below is just one example of how users react to such issues in a final release.
Please understand that the main reason I am sharing this is not to point fingers but rather to show how a flopped launch can alienate a company’s potential customers. The fact that the service and application are free does not rectify the issue.
While Vlingo may have fixed some of these usability issues by the time you read this, the purpose and point of the rant still rings true. I truly feel bad since Vlingo really has a great idea but fumbled with the launch. They are not the first with such an issue and they will not be the last. Hopefully they are working hard to fix these issues in a future release.
An open letter to Vlingo from your former user Harold
How in the world do you get to the point where you are named one of the “Ten Emerging Mobile Players to Watch in 2008” and then release a product to the unsuspecting public that does not function as advertised?
Very early in the morning I received an email about this great new software that was going to change the way we use our BlackBerry Phones forever. I bit on the hype hook, line, and sinker and downloaded it OTA, only to find that there is a glitch. Ha glitch funny. I continued for four hours fighting with the Vlingo application. Going back and fourth to the forums to see if there was a fix. There was none but we are assured that one is on the way.
The hang up was at step 4 in the set up process. Vlingo prompts you to speak a phrase into the phone and then attempts to connect to its servers to do its thing. That’s as far as it would go for my 8100 and for many users. I tried in vain to change all the settings that Vlingo recommended, network settings, firewall, and permissions. NO JOY. There is a feature that lets you send in a help request to Vlingo and they send you a code to start the trouble shooter but alas that too failed as it is voice controlled.
What happened with the beta? I am not sure, I wasn’t in on it. Was it even beta tested on all the different Blackberry Models? Carriers? Maybe the data it is trying to send to the servers is to much on a GSM/CDMA connection and it will only work on WiFi. But isn’t that the purpose of beta testing?
Can it be fixed? I hope so. Vlingo will have to take a look at what the differences are between the beta and the release and see where they missed the boat.
I am not a developer or anything close to a technoweenie. In fact I am the polar opposite. I am a user of technology and devices that can seem frivolous to some but actually do serve a purpose in my life and work. I depend on the techno elite to do their service just as there are those that depend on me to fulfill my military duties on a daily basis.
Vlingo has released a product that does not perform anywhere close to what was advertised. This product was beta tested and some of those testers have responded on forums elsewhere that the beta version, though it had some issues, worked better than the release. The press release states ” Vlingo is currently supported on the BlackBerry(R) Pearl(TM), BlackBerry(R) Curve(TM) and BlackBerry(R) 8800 series smartphones. Vlingo will be adding additional devices and operating systems in the third and fourth quarters of 2008.” Not even close!! It may work on some of the phones (WiFi) but many users were left out in the cold.
So you might resort to saying: Whoa dude but it is a free service!!! You should be appreciative of their generosity.
Yeah, well, so is getting rescued at sea, but if I or my organization came to rescue you at sea half assed you could bet there would be some backlash. Nonetheless, I appreciate those that release their wares as free even if they are a little buggy. I even enjoy a beta test here and there. This is just beyond belief. I am supposed to be thankful that I downloaded some junkware, and I should be supportive of the effort, even after being misled?
Vlingo, in my opinion has lost some street cred in the Blackberry world, but not enough that it can’t recover it. Vlingo should also do themselves a favor and make sure your product works before you e-mail blast 3/4 of the free world in the early morning.