I think we (Sun) 'get it' and get it right, most of the time. Not on everything, for certain, but when it comes to communication, openness and transparency, we have that down. As a counter example ...
I use a nifty piece of software from BareBones Software called Yojimbo (I know, the name sort of blows, but it's a great 'digital junk drawer' for my Mac and helps me save, organize and keep track of lots of stuff in one place. But I digress). Don't get me wrong here, I love the product, and use it almost every day. But their communication strategy seems to be modeled on Apple's. Tight-lipped and reticent. The users on the Yjimbo users' alias are clamoring for answers, for insight into what may, or may not, be going to happen with the product, and where things are headed. the response from BareBones?
Yep, pretty much. Well, other than to point to their FAQ, which says:
We'd like to offer an iPhone version of Yojimbo, but can't currently say if/when this may happen nor what its feature set might be. As soon as we're able to provide more info about our plans, we will do so.
The equivalent of "we can neither confirm nor deny ..." and a non-answer. Don't get me wrong, I understand that at times it can be advantageous to carefully control the release of information so as to not over-promise, under-deliver, or to make a big splash with your announcements. But there is a lot to be said for involving your users, for making them feel involved, a part of the process, and invested in your products. A user that has a mere affinity for a product is not nearly as good as a user that has an investment in, and a commitment to, a product or company. Involving your users gives them the investment and commitment to make them useful assets, not just the other end of the payment stream.
And what has all this to do with Sun? Well, I really think that this little experiment we call blogs.sun.com is a shining example of what can come of a company that values open communication with its customers -- and potential customers. Very few of our customers, I would venture, are unclear about what we are working on, where we are investing, and what they can expect from us. Yes, we all want to see more from the stock price, etc. but it's pretty clear that we have a real commitment to open communication with our customers.
I wish more companies would show the same.
[ "Now is the time for all good men to come to."
-- Walt Kelly ]