notion ink adam: an eap developer's tale

I've wanted to write this post for over a week now but the lack of blog prevented me. Now that things are back to normal, I can finally get on with it. Please note that I will not disclose any real details as a goodwill gesture to Notion Ink, despite the shambolic way in which I think they've handled their product and customers.

For those that don't know, or just aren't interested, there was a tablet that was shown off over a year ago. I originally wanted a netbook as I would be doing a lot of typing, but after seeing the specs on this new tablet, I was willing to forego it. They were that impressive.

Fast forward to slightly less than a year later of waiting to a month or two back. The creators of the Adam tablet, Notion Ink, started an Early Access Program that applicants can apply for to get access to the device before anyone else. This was mainly for developers to make a head-start, as well as a handful of testers to give general feedback.

I signed up, not really expecting to get in as there would be thousands upon thousands of entrants ranging up to well-established software houses. What d'ya know, I got in and was accepted into the EAP. Notion Ink then announced they would add another EAP due to the sheer volume of applications. The first phase, my phase, had 200 entrants, and the second phase would have slightly higher. It seemed they liked my ideas.

The time-scale isn't completely accurate as I'm essentially just guessing here, but moving forward a week, I receive an NDA. I print, sign, scan, and email it back. A week later, I got a confirmation of my acceptance of their terms. A couple of weeks or so after that, an order page link is sent that allows me to choose what version of the Adam device I would like to reserve. I, obviously, chose the version with the Pixel Qi screen; as it was very cheap, I also went for 3G. Except that I had a question about the payment method, so I sent an email off. No reply.

Shortly afterwards, I got an email informing me that they had run out of stock on the Pixel Qi version. What? How? I literally went to the reservation page within a minute of getting the email. There were 200 of us in the EAP, and somehow, they ran out of the version of the device that a vast majority of the customer base wanted? How in hell did they manage this?

So I replied to the out of stock email and asked if they had any Pixel Qi + Wifi-only versions in stock. I wanted that Pixel Qi screen. I got no reply. While they were announcing the EAP, they made it clear that anyone within the program will have direct access to high-level personnel within the company. And yet, they don't actually respond to correspondence from those very members.

Moving forward a couple of weeks, which brings us to last week, Notion Ink announce on their blog that they'll be accepting pre-orders from anyone that has made a comment on their blog in the past. They'll have all versions of the Adam available. Excuse me? All versions? They ran out of the Pixel Qi version and not even members of their EAP could get a hold of one! How/Why the hell would members of the public get one? That pissed me right off. I waited a year, got into the Early Access Program against some pretty mad odds, and have nothing to show for it.

I got so annoyed that I posted a comment on their blog. Comments require moderating before they are made available to view - I know this, other readers of their blog know this. So I asked them how is this possible, and why aren't they responding to emails from, essentially, their developers. Bear in mind I didn't actually leak any real information; just that they had run out of stock on the Pixel Qi unit. A couple of days later I get a reply to my first email saying that I have breached the NDA and have been removed from the EAP. Unbe-fucking-lievable.

I sent another email, and notified them via a comment on their blog that I had sent one. Two days or so later, they reply. Despite all the text, the reply told me nothing. But hey, they hoped I'd join EAP2. Yeah, I think don't so.

All this rambling is basically my way of saying that I think Notion Ink have screwed up in a massive, massive way. Here's a nice bullet-pointed list to surmise what I think.

The whole thing is a mess. I want Adam but I don't want Notion Ink. The CEO Rohan Shravan seems like a nice guy, but whoever is in charge of the above debacle needs their f*cking arse toasted.

Posted: 2011-02-22 at 22:33:38,