How Motorola Does It
Wednesday, December 28, 1994 by Dave Winer.
I received two emails yesterday that contrast Motorola's approach to customers to Intel's. They don't quite agree on how Intel does it, but it's clear that Motorola is doing some things quite right!
Scott Turner, firstname.lastname@example.org
For as long as I have followed the M68000 family, since the late 70s, one of the things I've liked about Motorola was that they were up front with their problems.
Their CPU chips carry a MC label on the front of the part number. For example a 68000 is a MC68000. But when the chip has problems with it they label them with XC so a 68000 with problems is labeled XC68000.
You can look at a part and know if there is something wrong with the part.
Motorola also lets you know what the problems are. In some cases I've even had to sign a release before I could purchase parts. They've never hidden problems behind an NDA.
Intel of course doesn't warn you, and you nearly have to beat the bugs out of them, and then they will only hand them over under NDA. When we finally proved that the problem we were having was with the Intel chips, Intel finally took us seriously. They called back and honest to god handled us discovering the problem as follows: "I know why one of those chips works better than the other one. But I can't tell you why, it's confidential. You'll have to sign an NDA and I'll have to send this document describing a workaround through channels."
Motorola faxes me stuff when they find problems, no need to ask for it up front.
Which company would you rather buy chips from?
Ted Leonsis, America On-Line, email@example.com
I played golf with Chris Galvin, President and COO of Motorola on Friday. Here is basically what he said about Intelgate.
It would never have happened at Motorola. Their motto is practice to the highest ethic and ideal. Their highest currency is their reputation. He believes that internal PR people got involved in the decesion at Intel and that the CEO should have stood up and made the call; the goodwill with employees and customers and the reseller channel would have made up for the onetime earnings hit.
Chris said he totally respected Andy Grove and Intel and that they were a company with great ethics, but in this case, their PR people overcame their personal ethics. He thought the recovery they made was appropriate and that the entire industry had learned a lesson from Intelgate, that promotion to consumers cuts both ways, when you drag consumers into your marketing mix, as oppossed to the trade, you are subject to a much higher standard.
Thanks Scott and thanks Ted!
PS: NDA stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement. A company asks you to sign an NDA when it wants to tell you something that it doesn't want to tell reporters.
PPS: PR stands for Public Relations. PR people at a company tell reporters what the company wants them to know.