So, recently I’ve had a chance to look at the first offering from Ubuntu and know a few of their developers. Their approach is very different to Zeta, but it has brought to a head my feelings about Zeta. If there is a heavy dose of sarcasm in what follows, I make no apologies.

If I read one more story about how Bernd has flown here or there to attend this meeting or that meeting I’m going to be sick. Seriously. The pace of development needs to be increased if Zeta will ever manage to break free of the “germanic focus” it seems to be acquiring. One obvious way is to follow the lead of ubuntu and organise developer get togethers at frequent intervals. The money spent on Bernd’s travels (and the resultant replacement laptops etc) could have been so much better spent dragging all the developers together, in the same room, for a week at a time. Development would have gotten a boost and the “product” might have improved suitably to have a 1.0 release! Also, I’m not talking about simply getting the developers to a BeGeistert meeting, I’m talking about getting the developers into a place where they can sleep, eat and code for a week or more!

I realise that yT see themselves as very succesful because they’ve sold a lot of copies of Zeta, but realistically who outside of Germany has ever heard of them? At a recent conference I found NO-ONE, not one single person, who had heard of yT, let alone Zeta. Yes the conference was in the US, but the people involved in discussions were from all over Europe, asia and even Japan (where apparently it’s going oh so well). Basing yT in Germany is a brave decision, but the centre of the IT universe isn’t anywhere near there. Be was located in the midst of an active development community. Their engineers mixed socially with people from other companies. They knew the other companies. That contact gained them a much larger presence in than advertising would ever have brought them. yT don’t have this and despite over a year of reading stories about this tv show and that show and how well they’re doing, no-one seems to have heard about them.

Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of the people working on Zeta and have a lot of respect for them, I just think that the money is all going on the wrong things. Ubuntu provided a bootable CD that allows you to view their product – why doesn’t Zeta do the same thing? Make it a free download from their website. Give it away at these trade shows they love to visit (they’ll help people travel to attend those but not pay for developers to get together – horse and cart issues?).

Ultimately their success will rely on the product, so spending time, money and effort in promoting something that isn’t complete seems like a huge waste of money. If the product is good enough then it’ll create it’s own “buzz”. So far I see no signs of Zeta doing that – in any market.