An English-rights lobby group in Quebec took the province’s language watchdog to court over its insistence that businesses replace their English computer software with French versions in July 1998. However, the
Quebec government ministry which enforced the use of French said its software policy was misunderstood.
“”The French language charter does not prohibit any language, whether it’s Spanish, Chinese or English. The law simply stipulates that the Office de Langue Française (OLF) must ascertain that companies ensure the generalization of French in the workplace. So they must use French in their oral communications, in their signs, and in the everyday life of the business, and that applies to software.””
While the OLF said that although they favoured the installation of French software, they didn’t prohibit the installation of English software as well, but Rob Bull, the director of the group leading the challenge against the OLF didn’t believe it.
“”That’s baloney,”” he said.
The issue didn’t end with language, but was problematic from a technical perspective.
“”There are massive, massive bugs in the French software,”” complained one francophone. “”It’s like a new software with some familiarity. It looks like a spreadsheet, it acts like a spreadsheet but it doesn’t talk like one.””
An IDC Canada study suggested in July 1998 that software firms gain more loyalty from customers when they offer training. The report found three key corporate benefits to software firms providing customer training.
“”One, the provision of training encourages overall market adoption of software products. Two, the provision of training contributes directly to the development of customer loyalty. Ad three, the provision of training is an extremely effective marketing tool that not only raises awareness and interest, but also pays for itself in the process,”” said the director of skills research at IDC Canada.
At the time of the report, almost 94 per cent of software firms surveyed had developed some form of certification program for their channel partners, and 56 per cent of these firms also created similar certification programs for customers.
At Macworld Expo in July 1998, CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple had approximately six million users each within the creative content and education markets, but the largest installed base of 10 million users, was within the consumer market. According to Jobs, the consumer sector lost fewer than 10 per cent a year to other platforms including Wintel.
“”These are very loyal customers, but most of their Macs are three, four or five years old. They have not been upgrading as they should have, and their counterparts in the Wintel stations have been because Apple has not been offering a great product to those consumer price points,”” he said.
This was the introduction of the iMac and Apple’s focus on the consumer market, a decision that concerned vendors and resellers. Many felt they were left with making the choice between riding Apple’s coattails to pursue consumers or start development to prevent a lack of attractive Mac-related corporate product.
It looks like Apple may have changed its mind. Just last month it was announced plans to recruit new VARs and build its reseller channel in a bid to pump up sales of its enterprise solutions.