“Piss off the hacker crowd? Why not?” This seems to be the attitude Creative has taken towards providing support for its drivers, at least on Windows. In case you don’t look at internet press, Creative Audio Labs has silenced a hacker named daniel_k and stopped him from providing driver support for the Creative Sound cards that Creative has been impotent to write themselves.
So, if writing Windows drivers for support that Creative decided to exclude makes Creative throw this legal tantrum, what do you think their attitude for writing drivers for Linux, Mac, the BSD’s, etc would be?? Not good, I can assure you. Personally, I feel that once I buy a piece of hardware, it is mine. End of story. I own it. Sure, I may not have the right to copy the circuit designs verbatim and resell them, but the hardware I buy belongs to me. No company will ever be able to convince me, or the public at large that they are ‘licensing’ corporeal intellectual property, when they sell their products. If I want my hardware to do something [legal], and I know enough about the hardware to make it work, I’m going to hack it out to make it work. The business tactics being used by Creative are hostile towards consumers, and I hope that the business team over at Creative has a nice time cooking in the heat we’re applying, and reconsiders its strategy.
Here’s some reasons that the hacker crowd is important for a company to appease:
- Our friends trust us when it comes to computing advice. For instance, if our less technology savvy friends hear us complaining about some company’s products, they begin to look suspiciously on those products, even if they don’t fully understand why we’re whining about things.
- We use computers at our jobs. We make purchase orders for businesses. If you want to tick off us hacker-engineers off with cutthroat , manipulative tactics, its your right to do so. However, you’re going to piss us engineers off eventually to the point where we execute our right to refuse to deal with your products. For the longest time, I would recommend to anyone that would listen to not buy aTi cards based solely on the crappy drivers they had for Linux at the time. aTi recently became more accomadating to us hackers lately (particularly Linux hackers), and guess what. They’re winning us back. I’m sure this will manifest itself in the bottom line of a company.
- We make tech PR. Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, and so much more is strongly influenced by hacker crowds. No one important in the tech sector give a damn about what MSNBC reports, but will likely read something that shows up on Slashdot. I’m sure you at Creative are learning this lesson though.
Why do I think that this happened in the first place? Based on speculation, I would guess that a business person who has cursory knowledge of technology and its implications saw a chance to make another buck somewhere and decided that this is a great idea to put more black ink on paper somewhere. One of the things I hate the most about the tech sector is how most companies start small, start off useful,fresh, and helpful, and then business people who know little about the tech sector creep in and create debacles like this. Frankly, engineers and business people are often at odds, and the usefulness of the product suffers as a result. Just look at Dilbert :-D. When a good balance between business and engineering is struck, companies like Google are formed. When an unhealthy relationship starts to set in, we get large, consumer crippling, money churning organizations that attack the public good for a better bottom line.
I realize that hardware companies have a lot of IP to protect, and that the laws are not resolute enough to protect from blatant copying. However, remember that you are a hardware company. You make your money through selling circuits, not through driver updates. We all want to be able to use what you make, so please dont step on our feet when we try to tap into the potential that you sell to us.
I hope this scalding PR you’re getting makes you rethink your Machiavellian tactics, Creative, and be more accommodating to those who are only trying to help. You are a hardware company. Don’t sacrifice a good hardware brand in the name of software drivers. You make good hardware, make the drivers to back it up, or at least dont actively silence those volunteering to make your brand name better. Lets hope that this shot accross the bow is a simple learning experience for the company, and not the beginning of a new pattern, so that we can all continue buying Creative hardware in good conscience.