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Stanley Allen <[log in to unmask]>
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Stanley Allen <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 5 Apr 1998 01:50:42 -0600
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At least Rational advertises!  And they don't
just advertise Rose and ClearCase -- I've seen
actual Ada ads, which is what is needed.
I clipped out the full-page "steel vault"
Apex Ada ad and put it up on my cubicle wall.
The ad was placed in Government Computer News,
which is probably not the most helpful place,
but at least it's something.

Advertising is the difference between life
and death for products.  Where would Coca
Cola be without advertising?

The funny thing about ads is that people
respond to them even if the ad says
nothing in particular about your product.
You don't even need to trumpet the virtues
of the product most of the time -- what
you are looking for is penetration of
the consumer's awareness.  Mindshare is
a terrible thing to waste!  Think about
Nike.  Think about Miller Lite beer.

Advertising is an odd enterprise that
points up goofy aspects of human motivation
and thinking patterns.  For example, you'll
find that supply creates demand, a
counterintuitive but useful piece of

Another odd result -- people trust you
if they see ads from you more than a couple
of times.

I appreciate Green Hills Software for at
least mentioning Ada in their ads -- even if
it's only one word.  At least people can see
that there is an Ada product that can be
purchased.  Plus it shows up in Embedded Systems
Programming magazine, a place where programming
tools are sold and something that programmers
actually read.

But it's not enough.  The only thing that can
help Ada is good advertisements that focus on
the products that are being sold.  This means
that vendors have to do it.  AJPO can't do it
because they aren't selling a product.  That's
the flaw behind the AJPO ads, slick as they were.

Of course we all know, Ada vendors know, everyone
knows that (1) DoD is still the biggest market
for Ada, (2) the pricing structures for the DoD
market and the commercial market are as
incompatible as Windows and Unix (which means,
for those who aren't aware of the $100 hammer
facts of life, that Ada vendors can make more
money per unit selling to DoD), and (3) most of the
big Ada vendors have other products to sell besides
Ada (so split the marketing budget into two pieces,
and focus the Ada budget on DoD trade shows).
These factors all drive Ada vendors to have a
a disincentive to market Ada outside the DoD world.

But all of these reasons strike me as cringing,
slinking, tail-between-the-legs reasons.  That's
no way to grow a business.  Vendors need more guts,
more chutzpah, to get their Ada products to play a
bigger game.

Rational is showing that kind of chutzpah now in a
different direction in their attempt to single-
handedly inaugurate the UML era; they seem to be
succeeding, too.

Like I said in my last letter about marketing: there's
a growing, soon to be booming commercial market for
real-time embedded software out there, and it's
waiting like virgin territory for good technologies
with good marketing programs.  In the words of the
gospel: "The fields are white unto harvest".  Mindshare
abhors a vacuum, and those other languages are rushing
in to get a share of the pie, including the obviously
inappropriate ones.  Ada people, think big!

Remember our USP (I haven't heard anyone object so far,
so I assume you all agreed the USP in my previous notes ;)
>> see

"Ada is the most powerful language for real-time
object oriented software."  [repeat sotto voce]

Wouldn't it be nice of the world knew this, especially
at this critical juncture?  Microsoft is on the verge
of "legitimatizing" (read: "annihilating the other
vendors in") the field of real-time operating systems.
Assume Visual C++ is to become the language of choice.
How does your stomach feel?

Now: how do we let the world know?  We can do our
little TeamAda-type promotions (and I have), but
the vendors must jump on the bandwagon and claim
their rightful share of the upcoming $100s of millions
to be spent in this arena.

Ada compilers and tools are the result of intense
intellectual effort and heavy monetary investment.
You've spent the money and energy to make the
products, why don't you try to sell them?

Stanley Allen
mailto:[log in to unmask]

P.S.  When people want to know about real-time
programming, point them to the Burns & Wellings
book "Real-Time Systems and Programming Languages"
(second edition, Addison-Wesley, 1997).  It's a
damn fine book, and Ada features prominently and
positively throughout it.  It is a good tool for
Ada mindshare growth, and couldn't have been published
at a better time for our purposes.

BTW, I saw six copies of this book at a local
bookstore recently!