(After a long hiatus, we return you to the x2 saga, already in progress....)
Now that the announcement was made, we had two parallel challenges we needed to scramble on. One was getting the actual product into the market on the consumer side, and the other was getting internet service providers (ISPs) to adopt our proprietary technology so that consumers with our super fast modems would actually be able to enjoy those speeds.
The consumer product took two forms -- upgrades to existing modems, and new modems that had x2 right out of the box. Each of these posed its challenges. The upgrades came in several flavors depending on the type of 33.6Kbps modem you already had. The newest models were flash upgradable -- pay your $60, download your firmware update, have a nice day. Slightly older models needed a chip swap -- pay your $60, we mail you a chip and a set of instructions. There were also a handful of modems out there that qualified for the upgrade but couldn't accomplish it by flash or chip, and those got replaced completely.
The upgrade program was handled by a fulfillment house in Salt Lake City, and I was one of the people who went out to train their reps on how to handle the calls. That also meant that when extreme customer service recovery "situations" came up, they sometimes got sent over to me. More on that in the next post.
Of course, nothing could happen until we actually had working product, and that kept us all on the edges of our seats, and of our nerves, for several weeks after the announcement. The engineers and product managers were working long into the night most days, and looking pretty strung out. Just about the time the media was starting to lose patience and the customers were losing all faith in us, finally, finally, they were ready to ship.
Something you have to understand about the UState building, where I worked, is that although the building had a PA system, it was almost never used. A few times a week, maybe, only to alert someone to an incoming call when that someone couldn't be found anywhere, or perhaps to mention that the place was on fire. So when the receptionist made an announcement over the PA, she had everyone's attention. And on that day, what she said was that the trucks had just rolled from U1 with the first shipment of x2 modems.
Everyone in the building -- and probably everyone in the company -- spontaneously stood up and cheered.
Next up: Creating x2 Fans