[IAEP] Topics & deliverables from Marketing IRC meeting 03-03-2009: Sugar 8.4 launch date set!

Sean DALY sdaly.be at gmail.com
Fri Mar 6 19:36:37 EST 2009

These comments have been very useful - thank you.

I apologize for the long post below, but I feel the subjects are very
important for the project, and with a week to go until the media
launch we need to sort ourselves out.

Jonas said:
If you were too confused to say "I run Sugar 0.82 on OLPC-OS 8.2 at my G1G1 XO"

In fact, that's just as confused I was... I didn't realize until today
that there was such a thing as "OLPC-OS 8.2"... I've been conflating
0.82 and 8.2. Which I'm sure I wouldn't have done if Sugar was
numbered 1.2 instead, but I'll address that below ;-)

Since I never see or touch the distro... it doesn't... exist.

Tomeu, Jonas: I perceive that what you see as a product is in the
functioning, architecture sense: the software which runs over the
underlying hardware, distro, packages, etc.
And indeed it is. In fact, I can't even imagine the complexity of
assuring compatibility with tuples of hardware and distros. But... in
userland, for the sake of ergonomics, that's best hidden... partly
because very few users have the technical chops and most users need to
be handheld, but also because... it's a distraction from the central
function of the software... which is for learning. What teachers and
parents care about.

There are lots of software products for which it is extremely
difficult to do marketing and communication. Samba springs to mind;
it's a vital component of every distro that needs to work with MS
servers on a network, but try visualizing it (!) Or Cisco for that
matter, which has a massive marketing budget and a nice logo... and
great difficulty in marketing, since ordinary users who depend on
Cisco boxes & software never see them (not even their admin screens).
So, as with many computer products, in their marketing you usually
see... happy shiny people.

My point is... Sugar has an incredible advantage compared to such
products... it is visual, and amazingly so... it is very different...
it is the most visible part of whatever system it is running on... it
is the machine/human interface. Without a doubt, any child (or
teacher, or parent) using it can be very specific about what they
like/don't like about the "computer"... for them, the computer *is*
Sugar. They know it - but they don't know its name (or version number
;-) It's *this* branding I'm interested in... that Sugar be called by
its name (or another, more in a moment)... just not "the computer" or
"the system". Because the first step in getting Sugar in front of more
kids is that users of all ages know its name... so they can ask for
it. On an XO, or another netbook, or a LiveCD, or (soon) on a USB

With all due respect to Gnome, *and* KDE for that matter... from a
marketing point of view, for me they are not a reference. Why? Because
I doubt one in a hundred ordinary people in the street have heard of
either of them. Because journalists will talk about "Linux" being
installed on machines and won't bother mentioning Gnome or KDE. And...
when journalists talk about Ubuntu, they will mention "Linux", but
they won't mention Gnome (or Kubuntu). Ubuntu has very effective
marketing; it's 100% user-facing. Sugar has all the potential to get
there... but that potential will only be realized if users know its

Of course, Ubuntu has Canonical behind it investing in marketing and
communication (and distribution, and development,...). Mozilla has
deep pockets too... and Firefox is very far ahead of Ubuntu in focus
group unassisted name recall (don't remember where that stat was,
sorry). Mozilla has done brilliant marketing these past four years in
the sense that they realized very early on that they had an amusing
but unmarketable name and therefore had to find a better one for the
user-facing product. They stated their ambition as market challenger
with a cute colorful mammal surrounding the world; they worked behind
the scenes to run on very different platforms with 1-click installers,
but branded only the part that mattered: what you're looking at on the
screen. To reach teachers and parents, and the kids behind them, Sugar
branding needs to do the same. Except for the multiplatform part; I
can't see any advantage, and many disadvantages, in trying to run over
Windows, and I don't even know what technical hoops would have to be
jumped through to do so, or with what level of crippling.

Now, about big money, offices, dozens of employees, branches around
the world, ruling the solar system, etc.: there is no doubt whatsoever
in my mind that generous funding would simplify many aspects of our
education mission. Compensating developers, putting a LiveCD or SoaS
in the hands of thousands of parents and teachers would have enormous
impact. It would of course also be a great responsibility, to keep
Sugar running if something breaks, every school day. Handling feedback
requires people, and listening to feedback Sugar could become *the*
reference. Local Sugar Labs could go far with little I believe, but
even further with more... so funding is not bad, in my view.

Bert made a very astute observation: we need to be Googlable. Luke is
quite right, Sugar by itself is ungooglable and Sugar "needs" Labs
close by in this context. This is why, to me, it is absolutely vital
to have the Sugar Labs logo on the sticks, even if it means shaking
the piggy bank. "Sugar Labs" is already well-referenced; to go
further, we need to associate that "string" with education... which is
why I advocate a consistent tagline of "Learning software for
children" to be associated with Sugar Labs. As for the product...
should a better name be sought? I've been mulling this for weeks. To
me, "Sugar" has a strong but not very positive association with
children: "candy", "not too much", "cavities", "obesity". I've had a
couple of ideas for a different name, including a specific one I spent
time on which had problems though. However, I don't think it's urgent
to take that decision until Sugar on a Stick (the ultrareliable
bulletproof version) is released, which is why I find Walter's
suggestion to go to v1.0 with SoaS convincing. A USB stick is a
physical embodiment and the act of connecting SoaS to a computer means
Sugar is deliberately added to it. To get there, parents and teachers
need to remember its name. Imagine if we could raise funds for
thousands of sticks...

So... if we stay with "Sugar v0.8x.y" (even/odd) until SoaS is
ready... how do we market "Sugar v0.84" starting next week?

Jonas makes the excellent suggestion to baptise the version with a
name. It's a good way to reduce the importance of the version number
in communicating. I fear that unfortunately, honoring chocolate barons
may not be the best path... the biggest names were part and parcel of
the colonial era :-( and some names including Van Houten are
registered trademarks which will be zealously protected so off-limits

The well-of-names approach may work... depends on the names. But...
rather than invent a nickname... in particular one related to Sugar
which possibly may not remain the name of the product, I propose a
different approach... a roadmap approach, meant to reinforce SoaS.
Netbooks are the fastest growing category in the industry; they are
the cheapest; there is already a wide number of them; after the XO,
the Classmate etc. are the likeliest candidates for school
deployments. Journalists are on the lookout for netbook-related
stories; they know netbooks are Microsoft's weakest point. So maybe we
should baptise 0.84 "Sugar Netbook Version". It doesn't matter if it
is actually targeted at desktop PCs in general; what matters is that
people will associate Sugar Labs with netbooks, reinforcing the
communication goal above that Sugar runs on lots of different machines
- a brand value which will pave the way for SoaS. "Sugar netbook"
delivers excellent Google results already; "Sugar Labs netbook" hits
our site directly. ;-)

On a final note... we need to be crystal clear on the version
numbering, and in particular take into account advising the large G1G1
installed base which will be working with "build numbers" as far as I
can tell.

Thanks for your help.


On Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 2:59 PM, Luke Faraone <luke at faraone.cc> wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 8:54 AM, Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>
> wrote:
>> Nice idea, but it's not google-compatible. Rather unlikely that "sugar
>> chocolate" will lead one to discover 0.82 ... It's too bad "Sugar" is
>> such a generic word :(
> How about "Sugar Labs Chocolate"? :)
> --
> Luke Faraone
> http://luke.faraone.cc
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep

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