Jawbone UP v2.0: Business School Case Study for the Future

Today, the tech community is abuzz with articles about the new Jawbone UP. Strictly speaking, it’s version 2.0 of the device, whose first iteration was made available to the market in November 2011. Jawbone’s handling of the UP from initial failure to reinvention will be studied by future generations of business school students.

I didn’t even know about the UP before it had been pulled from store shelves. It was probably released during one of my self-imposed media blackouts. Jawbone released the UP through two channels: 1) its own website and 2) select retailers. The UP was available for purchase for about a month before Jawbone announced that it was recalling them due to hardware issues that were causing a low mean time between failures.

Jawbone’s CEO, Hosain Rahman, wrote a letter to the UP community that was quickly reposted across the tech blogosphere. In it, he promised a “No Questions Asked Guarantee” for everyone who had purchased UP.

… for whatever reason, or no reason at all, you can receive a full refund for UP. This is true even if you decide to keep your UP band. We are so committed to this product that we’re offering you the option of using it for free.

Source: https://jawbone.com/up/guarantee

That program is still active until December 31st, 2012. You can read about it here (archived link from April 23, 2012).

By the time that I was made aware of the Jawbone UP, the official distribution channels had already been closed down. Jawbone’s UP website displayed a message to prospective buyers that the UP would be coming back soon. I had to go through unofficial channels to purchase mine, where I paid close to $150 for a device that someone else paid $99 to acquire.

My first Jawbone UP lasted for nearly eight months of daily use. One day, late into its life, an LED inexplicably went dead. Shortly thereafter, the band refused to sync with my iPhone. I fired off an email to Jawbone Customer Service. They first came back with instructions on how to reset the Jawbone UP, but quickly escalated the case after I told them that it wasn’t responding to the reset procedure. It took ten (non-working days included) days from my first contact with Jawbone Customer Service to the time that I received my replacement UP.

Jawbone UP and iPhone 5 Incompatible?

I used the replacement Jawbone UP right up until I moved to an iPhone 5. I found that my UP no longer synced with the phone, and some brief Google searches found that there were a number of other UP users who had been similarly left out in the cold. Users on the Jawbone UP community forums reported no success getting the Jawbone UP to sync with the iPhone 5. I recall a response from the forum administrator that read something like, “You’ll need to keep your old iDevice around for now if you want to keep on syncing your Jawbone UP”.

I speculated that the problem wasn’t Jawbone’s alone – it was very possible that Apple had changed something about the iPhone 5 that made its headphone jack different from the iPhone 4S and earlier. I recalled thinking about the other devices on the market that used the iPhone’s headphone jack for data transmission: Square came to mind, but I noticed that their website claimed that the Square Reader was compatible with the iPhone 5. Who broke compatibility?

In any case, my Jawbone UP sat unused for the past month. I kept it plugged in to its USB charger so that it wouldn’t vibrate across the desk every morning. I thought about selling it to some other sucker – I was convinced that the world wouldn’t be seeing another UP for a while longer yet, but competing devices struck me as fairly lame. I looked briefly into the Nike+ Fuel band, but didn’t act on it.

I didn’t follow up on the Jawbone UP any further until today, when I read about its rerelease. As a Jawbone UP user, of course I was going to click through and read more. I poo-poohed the Jawbone UP first-generation users who were lamenting the fact that they would not be receiving free Jawbone UP v2.0 bands. I saw this message in the FAQ for Previous Band Owners and I was happy.

Will 1st Generation band work with iPhone 5?

Yes, as long as you use the same account to login. Your data is stored in your account, rather than a specific version of the app. If needed, you can delete specific events in your feed.

Lo and behold, my Jawbone UP does work with iPhone 5! I won’t have to buy another Jawbone UP band just because there’s been a second generation offering that’s been unveiled.

Activity on the Jawbone UP Community Forums

Then I realized something important. Those users on the Jawbone community forums who are complaining that they’ve been left out in the cold again may be on to something. There have been a plethora of threads whose titles reflect the angst of so many upset first-generation UP owners. Threads whose titles look something like..

Jawbone’s response to these threads will affect the existing UP community’s perception of the brand. At the time of writing, it is not unreasonable to think that the only people who are actively scanning the Jawbone UP community forums are first-generation Jawbone UP users and owners. The Jawbone UP gained a lot of awareness in the media in spite of its short lifetime on the market, so I will not be surprised if the UP gains significant traction now that it has been brought back to the market. It was probably one of the coolest products that you couldn’t buy last Christmas.

Additional Reading for My A+ Students:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/13/jawbone-up-2012/
http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/08/jawbone-offers-no-questions-asked-refund-for-troubled-up-band/

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665351/jawbone-releases-up-a-wristband-for-tracking-your-wellness
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665491/the-jawbone-up-fails-but-teaches-3-golden-rules-for-experience-design#disqus_thread
http://www.fastcodesign.com/mba/1671243/how-3-million-hours-of-user-testing-fixed-the-jawbone-up#-1

Edits

20161008: Replaced broken link to Jawbone UP refund program with an archived link

macbook pro case warp, ntfs.

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Click on images for full view. I took my MacBook Pro to a local mall this weekend, and it turns out that Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover the casing. No matter, it’s not too much of an issue.

Proper bezel-screen alignment
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Warped bezel
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If any larger problems pop up in the future, I’m getting this thing swapped. And if there are hardware updates around the corner, you can be sure that I’ll end up having some sudden technical difficulties with my MBP.

On another note, I finally got around to delving further into the issue of getting NTFS write support through Mac OS X. Normally users are allowed read access only from NTFS-formatted drives. However, it is possible to use MacFUSE and NTFS-3G in order to enable write access. It works like a charm, but it’s quite slow. Meaning I probably won’t be using it much.

Listening To: anberlin – Naïve Orleans

macbook pros.

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I love mine so much, I want to marry it. These pictures were taken before I managed to deflower my MacBook Pro. And by deflower, I mean damage. But that’s a story for another day.

Mine runs beautifully. It’s the one that’s pictured on the left in both of the shots, a beast of a machine. Processing muscle that’s fit to burst, crammed into a sleek aluminum chassis. It runs circles around my desktop in all regards, and handles everything I throw at it like a champ.

But blemishes do come, and at the end of the day I must admit that this is just another piece of hardware. Albeit the most expensive and gorgeous piece that I’ve ever owned.

Dell Inspiron 700m Issues and Customer Support Woes

My sister ordered a Dell Inspiron 700m notebook two years ago. At the time of its release, it was quite a desirable notebook. A bright 12.1″ widescreen LCD display coupled with some of the best internals that you could find in a thin-and-light notebook at a time made for an traveler’s friend. In the best interests of keeping this focused, I’ll avoid digressing into a full-blown review of the laptop. There are plenty of reviews out there, but here are a couple of quick ones just for reference:

http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/dell…75241.html
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895…592,00.asp

About a year after purchasing the laptop, my sister found that its internal speakers had begun malfunctioning. At times there was simply no sound output. She was able to get the speakers to start working again by closing the laptop hinge, but even that failed to coax the speakers into working after some time. Audio out, however, was not an issue. Just to be certain that there were no software conflicts getting in the way of speaker operation, we reinstalled the audio drivers. I didn’t think to go trotting back to Dell to take advantage of the one-year warranty that came bundled with the notebook – after all, I’ve never had to resort to a product warranty.

Fast forward a year. In an attempt to get to the root of the problem once and for all, I unscrew most of the screws holding the Inspiron 700m together. This is the first time that I’ve tried stripping down a ‘modern’ notebook so I completely forget about the plastic housing that covers the laptop hinges. Some gentle lifting with a flathead screwdriver releases the tabs holding this housing down, revealing the following sight:

Dell Inspiron 700m 001

Dell Inspiron 700m 002

At first I didn’t think much of the four black and white cables that are pictured above. The cables had been severed with a very clean cut – so clean that I assured myself that this must have been a decision on Dell’s part. I found myself at a loss and looked towards some quick help from Google on what was wrong with the laptop. It turns out that a number of other users have reported the same issue with the Dell Inspiron 700m. Below is a selection of sites with information pertinent to this case:

http://www.tinyscreenfuls.com/2005/0…sign-flaw/
http://www.notebookforums.com/thread…57373.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dell_In…piron_700m
http://laptop-mechanic.livejournal.c…piron+700m
http://www.lukemiller.org/journal/20…-700m.html

Owners of the Dell Inspiron 700m report not only that the notebook’s speakers face inevitable failure after normal operation, but that the notebook’s audio in quality is unbearable. Heavy static and hissing when using audio in is commonly reported, perhaps explaining why Skype calls from my sister have always been accompanied by noticeable background noise. Complaints about the Dell Inspiron 700m were in fact so great that some users made a website urging Dell to recall the model. However Dell did not respond to these users and elected not to formally recognize the issue, unlike what it has done with last year’s battery recall program.

I called Dell Technical Support in Malaysia with a clear set of points. My sister’s issue was not an isolated one, as a simple search on Google for “Dell Inspiron 700m Issues” revealed. Similar searches for “Inspiron 700m Speakers” and the like turned up with a multitude of links to forum threads full of discontent consumers. Although my sister’s Inspiron 700m is no longer under warranty, I argued that Dell had sold laptops that were defective by design. The technical support representative that I was talking to suggested that she transfer me to another department to see if there was anything that could be done regarding the issue. I explained the problem at hand again to this new representative. Because the notebook was no longer under warranty, Dell was not able to provide me with anything beyond a quotation for a new LCD display panel.

Forgive me here, but what? The notebook has a perfectly functioning screen that my sister is very much satisfied with. The only issue here is a number of broken wires, wires that have been severed due entirely to faulty design. They snapped after regular use, and replacing the LCD display would do nothing to resolve problem. After all, it took only one year for the wires to snap the first time around. Just a single year of regular hinge operation, and the speakers had quit.

I thanked the Dell representative and informed them that I was not interested in hearing the quotation for a new LCD display panel. I pointed out rightly that the broken speakers could be fixed with a soldering iron. A pity that I don’t have a soldering iron, isn’t it? Twenty minutes of jostling with Technical Support to be told that because the unit was out of warranty, nothing could be done.

At least the first Dell Technical Support representative that I spoke to called back later that day to ask if things had gone alright.

In other news, we just ordered a Dell XPS M1330 for my brother a couple of nights ago. Built to order with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 (2.0GHz, 4MB Cache, 800MHz FSB), 2GB DDR2 667MHz, 120GB SATA HDD, 8X DVD+/-RW DL, NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS 128MB, 802.11N, and a 13.3″ LED-backlit LCD display. All this for RM5891 – $300 USD cheaper than an identical model in the US.

And they couldn’t even offer to send down a guy with a soldering iron to fix up my sister’s Inspiron 700m.

I’m Feeling: Frustrated