Launch day was not "product launch" day -- it was just the day we announced this thing that had kept us all buried in NDA hell for the preceding six months. But the anticipation of being out from under that, and our beliefs about what it would cause in the market, had me, at least, on the edge of my seat. (I suspect the caffeine may also have been a factor.)
I was asked to write the cover letter for the announcement packet, which would be signed by Casey, our CEO. I was flattered to have the opportunity to speak in the voice of the boss, and did my best to say it the way I thought he would say it.
Finally, with no time to spare, we finished assembling all the press kits (there were somewhere around 300 of them, if I remember right). They included shelf tag cards that explained the upgrade process and other items with the bright red and black x2 logo, a white paper that explained how the technology worked, and assorted other stuff. It was all put into a very unassuming plain white folder with the U.S. Robotics logo in the lower right hand corner, and when you opened it, it fairly slapped you with bold x2 graphics.
And a cover letter from Casey, whose first words were "Welcome to the future."
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Our competitors had made announcements of speed-doubling technologies prior to this point, with the main effect that U.S. Robotics stock went up. The night before launch, on the strength of a "teaser" press release, USRX gained $8.78 a share.
And that afternoon, we put those 300 announcement packets on FedEx trucks, to hit the desks of every one of our resellers by 10:30 the next morning.
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And on that morning, this was what the media received:
U.S. ROBOTICS SHATTERS SPEED BARRIER: DELIVERS 56 Kbps OVER STANDARD TELEPHONE LINES Internet Service Providers Embrace New x2 Technology; Plan Field Trials & Roll-Out Skokie, Ill., October 16, 1996 -- U.S. Robotics (NASDAQ:USRX) today announced a key breakthrough in modem technology that provides Internet and on-line connections at speeds nearly twice as fast as those currently available over standard telephone lines. U.S. Robotics' new x2 increases the top speed of a standard modem for downloading data from 28.8 or 33.6 Kbps to 56 Kbps -- equivalent to many Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connections, but without the need for expensive new central office equipment required by other high-speed technologies. Service Providers Sign Up for x2 U.S. Robotics also announced that the world's leading Internet and on-line service providers support x2. To date, more than 30 service providers worldwide have agreed to participate in field trials with broad roll-out plans to follow. "As the worldwide leader in providing consumer Internet on-line services, America Online is excited about the x2 technology that will provide our more than 6.2 million members the ability to access AOL at even faster speeds," said Matt Korn, vice president, operations, America Online. "We will continue to work with innovative technology, like x2, which will expand our members' experience and enable them to use a variety of multimedia services on AOL." "We plan to aggressively deploy this new high-speed modem technology across the IBM Global Network's more than 500 local calling points in the U.S.," said Gary Weis, general manager, worldwide operations, IBM Global Network. "As soon as this new feature becomes available, the IBM Global Network will implement x2 via our automated software download process that enables customers to obtain network enhancements like this easily and quickly," he said. In the near term, IBM Global Network will use x2 technology in the U.S., Canada and 14 other countries.
Next up: Delivering the Dream