Study Spam: Caveat Emptor

January 31, 2008

My interest in Google is evident from my speeches, articles, and studies about the company. Not surprisingly, I receive a number of emails, telephone calls, and snail mail solicitations. Most of these are benign. I respond to the email, take the call, and toss the snail mail junk. Most people are hoping that I will review their work, maybe engage in some Google gossip, or try to sell me their studies or expertise. No problem 99 percent of the time. I post my telephone number and email (I know it’s not a great idea), but most people are courteous to me and respectful of my requests.

Recently I have been getting email solicitations from an entity known as Justyna Drozdzal from Visiongain Intelligence. The email address is justyna.drozdzal at visiongainglobal.com. Maybe you will have better luck interacting with this outfit? I certainly haven’t had any success getting Ms. Drozdzal to stop sending me email solicitation about a “new” study about Google’s Android. The study’s title is come-hither scented Google’s Android and Mobile Linux Report 2008: A Google-Led Initiative to Reshape the Mobile Market Environment. I didn’t think Google “led” much of anything, but that’s my Kentucky silliness surfacing. I accept Google’s “controlled chaos” theory of building its business. (This is the subject of my April 2008 column in KMWorld where some of my “official” work appears.)

The Visiongain study is about, according to the information available to me, Google’s Android — sort of. I did review the table of contents, and I drew three conclusions, but I urge you to make your own decision, not accept the opinion of a geek in rural Kentucky with the squirrels and horses. Here’s what I decided:

First, the report seems to recycle information available on Google’s own Web site and from other readily available open sources. Summaries are useful. I do them myself, but my summaries have not been able to do much to clear the shroud of secrecy that surrounds Google’s intentions. When it comes to telco, I think the Google has “won”. The company has destabilized traditional telecom operations in the US, floated this open platform notion, and managed to round up a couple dozen partners. I’m reasonably confident that Google knows exactly what it will do — be opportunistic. That’s because Google reacts to clicks and follows the data. A company with Google’s Gen-X fluidity defies conventional wisdom and makes predictions about Google wobbly. Unlike my uncertainty, Visiongain has figured out Google, Android, and telecommunications. Impressive.

Second, the study appears to have some chunks of other Visiongain reports. such as the use of Linux on mobile devices. Again, my spot checks suggested that most of the information is available with routine queries passed to metasearch engines like Dogpile or consumer-oriented Web search services such as Microsoft Live.com or Yahoo. Maybe I’m jaded or plain wrong, but “experts” and “high end consultancies” with names that convey so much more meaning than ArnoldIT.com have been quick to exploit Google – mania. Is Visiongain guilty of this? I’m not sure.

Third, the study seems to suggest that Visiongain is not baffled by Google’s telecommunications’ strategy. Is Dell making a Google phone? Is Apple the next Google target? Will Google build a telecommunications company? I was unable to see through Google’s and the Web’s Sturm und Drang. My conclusion: Remove my telecommunications analysis from my study Google Version 2.0.
Now, back to Visiongain. My thought is that spamming me to buy a report in an area in which I have conducted research for several years is silly. When I asked the company to stop, I received another missive from Ms. Drozdzal asking me to buy the study. That was even sillier. My personal opinion is that this particular Visiongain report seems to be more fool’s gold than real gold.

To cite one example, there is chatter circulating that Google and Dell have teamed to produce a Google phone. Not surprisingly, neither Dell Computer nor Google is talking. Similarly, there are rumors that Google continues to bid for spectrum, and there are rumors that Google is not serious. Until the actual trajectory of these Google mobile activities is made clear by Google itself, I think spending money on reports from companies purporting to know how Google will “reshape the mobile market environment” is not for me. You make your own decision about how to spend your money.

Stephen Arnold, January 31, 2008

Comments

11 Responses to “Study Spam: Caveat Emptor”

  1. Anon on March 27th, 2008 11:07 am

    i can back up your fears or concerns even that visiongain products are any good. I worked on their reports and in many cases from my experience everything you say is correct. it’s all guess work and there are much better companies to buy proper intelligence and not collated internet reports.
    they’re website is awful and no longer works and their attitude sucks which is why they spam everyone. They built the business on copy from others and spamming the world, then fell apart as no ISP wanted their business and now they’re back spamming.

    waste of time, i would call them visiongain negligence.

  2. Graham Hill on May 15th, 2008 6:11 am

    The fact that you dont know the difference between “they’re” and “their” may have been one of the reasons they got rid of you. I hope you have found a new job.

  3. Stephen E. Arnold on May 15th, 2008 2:15 pm

    Thanks for catching the typographical error. I appreciate it.
    Stephen Arnold, May 15, 2008

  4. Graham Hill on May 16th, 2008 6:25 am

    I know it was a cheap shot, but whoever Anon is, its obviously some ex-employee with a chip, or probably a few chips. We have bought a number of visiongain reports (though I dont think we have bought the Google one as yet) and have found them good – certainly as good as anything else out there. So I just wasnt hugely pleased at us (and companies like us) being made to appear stupid for making purchases that we have found to be beneficial, that was all.

  5. Stephen E. Arnold on May 16th, 2008 8:56 am

    No need to apologize. My Web log is a forum for me to express my opinions, and I certainly don’t expect people to agree with me. My first 10 years of “real” work was in Nuclear Utility Services (a nuclear consulting firm owned by Halliburton) and Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Since 1990, I’ve been a consultant. I’m not reluctant to criticize my work (I kept my first report because it was an example of what not to do) nor am I reluctant to call attention to what I think are weaknesses in scope, approach, research, sampling, conclusions, or writing. My mentor was a fellow famous long before Steve Jobs for identifying dumb stuff and demanding better work. Now, as I approach 65, I find myself falling into Dr. William Sommers’ “style”. My goal is not to make anyone more or less dumb (everyone has what William James called “a certain blindness”). My goal is to express my opinion and possibly cause positive change no matter how modest. I’m dismayed by the failure rate of information technology projects. I’m concerned about the time and money wasted. I’m concerned about the decisions that are made based on flawed, incomplete, or context-deprived information. You’re entitled to criticize my opinion, and I’m going to use my Web log as a place to put information that doesn’t find its way into my for-fee studies and presentations. My Web log is what it is, no more, no less. “Never complain, never explain” sometimes is good advice.
    Stephen Arnold, May 15, 2008, 10 am Eastern

  6. Anon on May 19th, 2008 9:38 am

    Graham,

    Thanks for your comment and bringing up such a trivial error was genius. Not everyone has the time to check every word, i certainly don’t.

    Anyway disgruntled ex-employee I am not, a very happy and successful ex-employee i am. I very much enjoyed and appreciated my time at the company but i was commenting on something i saw for myself. Have you been to the company website recently, or even in the last year? It doesn’t work and has not done so for ages.

    The company does tend to outsource all its report writers these days because they struggle to keep employees because of their methods. I don’t want to go too deep in to this but some reports are good but they have not always been based on good honest primary research. Their pharma reports were generally much better than their mobile/wireless telecoms ones.

    There’s a good reason why they went from a promising company to a seriously troubled one.

  7. Graham Hill on August 7th, 2008 9:05 am

    The website is working for me!!!!

    I spoke to the person who wrote the report we just bought (we bought another one last week and I wanted some clarification on which Q the figures were judged from) and the guy who wrote the report was in-house and available for a quick chat. Again, this report has turned out to be quite useful for us, so again, I can’t really complain. They didnt seem troubled to me – unusually helpful infact. The report also came with about a dozen first hand interviews in the appendix, so looked fairly primary led to me. Anyway, I am glad to hear you are ‘happy and successful’.

  8. Stephen E. Arnold on August 7th, 2008 2:28 pm

    Hi, Graham Hill,

    To which Web site are you referring. I put in links and when I know some go 404, I add a note. Others are–well–going to go dark due to an editorial policy or a glitch.

    I am neither happy nor successful. I am generally miserable and an abject failure. Anything positive is either tongue in cheek or the opposite of what the words seem to say.

    Thanks for your post about “the report”. Utility depends upon the reader’s knowledge. At university, certain courses lay the foundation for a more advanced course. A student lacking the foundation can neither understand the more advanced course nor offer an objective evaluation of the professor and her work.

    Life, of course, in today’s world is not concerned with these trifles.

    Stephen Arnold, August 7, 2008

  9. Graham Hill on August 8th, 2008 4:40 am

    Hi Stephen

    Just talking about the visiongain site. http://www.visiongain.com – it seems to work fine on my system though the previous blogger said he couldnt get on.

    Yes I would agree…. am always sceptical of people who are constantly happy and successful, I find myself continuosly grumpy and alot of what i have written on your site would only confirm this!!!

  10. Anom on August 27th, 2008 7:05 pm

    The website started to work in August 2008 after been down for more than one year.
    It didn’t work for long time and every time you were calling them asking why, they were saying was a temporary problem. But it didn’t work for more than one year. That could explain how serious could be this company. A part of the spamming thing.

  11. Graham Hill on February 23rd, 2009 7:38 am

    “That could explain how serious could be this company”….. Without meaning to stick up for the company again, I can really see why from a report writers, publishing perspective it was probably best you did something else…….but obviously without chips on shoulders and much happiness.