The report this week in EE Times of the impending demise of the ultrawideband industry is an interesting case study in the importance of good marketing.  


I had the dubious pleasure of advising two UWB companies in how to best make a name for themselves and the technology and had an even harder time getting them to do decent marketing than I did for any EDA company I worked with.  Like most technology companies, everything was run by engineers, including marketing.  They said they sold their product to engineers and knew how to talk the them.  They all said they had the leading technology and showed me all kinds of wonderful demonstrations to show how bullet proof their product was.  They insisted on exhibiting at CES to launch.  They insisted they only needed tactical help (setting up editor meetings).  Oh, and they didn't want an ongoing program.

I was naive.  I thought the technology was cool.  I knew I could get meetings for them and I was learning something new.  So to learn about new technology and industry niches I swallowed my pride, accepted that they knew what they were talking about and moved forward with the plan.  

I remember talking to editor after editor who said the same thing:  UWB has been promised for years and hasn't delivered.  But they accepted the meetings.  I was getting worried.  Then I got to CES.  They had segregated the UWB people into their own little ghetto so I could see the competition in just a few minutes.  Everyone had the exact same demonstration, making the exact same claims and even claiming the exact same customers.  

None of them had done any real marketing research.  They were completely enamored with their technology never realizing that their products had no real differentiation.  They were going up against an established standard (WiFi) and one that was heavily targeting consumers (Bluetooth).  They had great relationships with the engineering community, but they had not been able to show why their technology should replace the established and upcoming standards to the people who make the decisions to buy the technology.

Oh, and their demonstrations at CES worked only sporadically.  Apparently mobile phone transmissions interfered.

This is what you get when you let engineers run marketing.