It's a wrap

Posted in In My Opinion...

There's a reason it's been a while since we put a newsletter out. We really hate creating newsletters! You waste hours formatting and word-smithing and creating new graphics when you could be doing your real job. Well, as soon as I finish this blog entry, it's a wrap so let's get to it...

On the business side, the big announcement is the 2010 M1OT/Standard program which dramatically extends the pool of those customers who are eligible to get all that functionality at no cost. If you don't know what the Standard Edition of M1OT is, an explanation is in order.

The Standard Edition of M1 Oscilloscope Tools is designed to provide an all-in-one-tool with functionality on a very close par with the numerous proprietary tools available from the scope companies, at orders-of-magnitude lower cost. It's derived from our flagship product, M1OT/Ultimate in that we start with Ultimate and disable various capabilities that aren't available from ScopeCo. If you do the usual things that scope users do with OEM software... jitter, compliance testing, eye diagrams, serial data, Rj/Dj, decode, etc., then Standard is worth a close look. If you want to do those things on value and midrange models the OEM software doesn't support, then M1 Standard can be a life-saver.

The 2010 M1OT/Standard Program is quite simple... if you're a qualifying engineer or manager at a qualifying company, and now have, or are getting (rental or purchase) a current-model Tek scope, you are entitled to a no-cost license to Standard. You just download the application form on the program page, fill it out and send it back to ASA. While M1 Standard will get the job done for many, we know that once they take the time to take a close look at the additional capabilities M1OT/Ultimate provides (access to Apps, collaboration, automation, SimBridge, Subscription, etc.) they will want to upgrade at the very attractive discounts we will be providing.

When we run a program for Standard, the "standard question" is why do we give away functionality ScopeCo sells for $50,000 or more? The standard answer is that this is a great way for us to establish relationships with new customers. "Free" is a powerful thing. To anticipate the second question, why limit the program to Tek scopes? That answer is a little more involved... we know that the vast majority of customers we speak with have at least Tek and Agilent boxes in their lab with Tek being a little more widely deployed. By incorporating Tek scopes, we feel we'll establish the relationships we're seeking. By limiting it to just Tek scopes, we feel that once we demonstrate the value of having M1 in your lab, there will be other scopes (Agilent, LeCroy, Yokogawa) in your lab that you will purchase M1 Ultimate for. So bluntly, it's about profit.

Using this sort of "price discrimination" is a business experiment. I think there's a chance our business will be maximized under a price discrimination approach. We'll see after the program ramps. After the press releases have worked through the system and we start to have conversations with engineers, managers and procurement groups, we'll know if we should leave it like this or if we should expand the program to other manufacturers. We want to meet new customers and get a chance to show off our technology and vision. We think this is the best way for us to accomplish this.

On the technology side, we're announcing a new release of M1. The big focus with this version was "assistive technologies". Quite frankly, M1 is the most capable title in the entire scope industry... it does a LOT. Further, we often do things differently than the ScopeCo approach (very much on purpose). It can take a while to become a power user. The thinking behind the assistive technologies was this... we examined every question about getting started and using M1 that we've ever been asked and combine that with the fact that most engineers "know everything" and storm past manuals and traditional help files and skip the training videos. Starting with this release of M1, the product is capable of demonstrating itself. A core set of about 15 of the most common tasks (e.g. running a compliance test) have been built into self-demos with more in the works back at ASA. We've also made "tool tips" more useful... when a tool tip comes up, you can usually click on it to get help beyond the simple tip. And we've made it IMPOSSIBLE for engineers to just storm through setup and deployment without knowing where ALL THE INFORMATION is. The objective is to make you productive faster... between all the assistive features and the embedded intelligence, we think we're just about there.

In closing, let me say that ASA has built up quite a team of Account Managers that formerly worked for scope companies. I estimate we have about 250 years of accumulated experience in the new team and we expect to better serve you with them. While we have a few more coming on, we'll be kicking off their new roles with us with the M1 Quick Start promotion. If there is something we can help you with, please contact ASA so we can put you in touch with your own new Account Manager.

Mike