Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So Whatever Became of My CloudBook Mania?

I Ended Up Building This Cheap Knock-off Instead

Is My Daughter a Computer Cracker?!

A Closeup of My CloudBook Replica
(I didn't have enough black blocks)

As I have indicated in previous posts, I was one of the first people in the world to put in a pre-order for the first ever Everex CloudBook. Last week saw a lot of CloudBook un-boxings going online in the United States and, had I not canceled my order, I probably would have received mine here in Japan at the end of this week. So WHY, you might ask, did someone so obsessed about becoming an early CloudBook owner CANCEL his order?! Well, the fact is that I was beginning to realize (during Everex's one-month delay in their product launch) that I am probably not very well suited for the role. The CloudBook still requires a lot of developing, and--unfortunately--at present I have neither the time nor the necessary knowledge to be a part of that process. What finally nudged me into backing out--for now--was the following email I received from ZaReason.com :

---quote---
We are nearly ready to ship the Cloudbooks. A few of the early orders (yours included) did not have the option to purchase the proper country-specific power cord since the non-US power cords were not yet available when we first opened up the preorders. We now have the power cords available. Please place your order for the proper type of power cord here. As soon as your order is complete, we can ship your Cloudbook with the proper power cord for your country.

Note that we can only ship your order when we have reassurance that you will be able to have a proper power supply in your country. If you would rather cancel your order, we will gladly give you a full refund. If you still want your Cloudbook, then please order the cord and we will gladly ship it to you.

Thank you,

[so-and-so] in Orders
www.zareason.com
---end quote---

I replied thusly:

---quote---
Ahh. I suppose I should have noticed that a power cord was not listed in the hardware specifications . . . . Anyway, I respect and appreciate your offer for a full refund and, as reluctant as I am to do so, I think I am going to have to accept that offer. An extra US$29 pushes the total cost beyond what would make sense for me, especially since it is already costing me so much to ship the CloudBook to Japan.

My records show that you charged US$462.20 to my wife's credit card ($399 for the CloudBook and $63.20 for shipping). My understanding is that the shipping cost will also be refunded as no shipping actually took place? Please let me know how the refunding actually works, as we used a Japanese credit card (which, of course, charges us in Japanese yen) and I'm not very experienced with refunds on credit card charges.

I still think ZaReason is a great company, and I will be taking my time to research and consider your other products . . . or maybe even a future version of the CloudBook.

Sincerely,
Luke Elliot
---end quote---

Sadly, I discovered later that refunds for credit card charges don't work very well at all . . . for the company that has to give them, that is (it worked out fine for us as we got all of our money back). A couple of days after asking for a refund, I began seeing the following message from ZaReason being quoted on CloudBook websites:

---quote---
Due to the amount of money we have lost granting refunds (due to bank transaction fees) we can no longer sell the Cloudbook. You may be able to find it through other vendors but we can not guarantee stock. We are refocusing our efforts on laptops and desktops that we build ourselves over which we have complete control and which we have never missed a product launch. Trustworthy delivery of Linux hardware is the core of our business.
---end quote--- (Reference)

Reading that made me feel a little guilty about my personal role in the financial woes of a company I have come to respect greatly. I was also saddened by the fact that if I do buy a future version of the CloudBook, I will not be able to take my business to ZaReason. Hopefully--if Everex ever gets its game together with the CloudBook--the two companies will kiss and make up. Well, okay, maybe not kiss, but at least make up. Or maybe ZaReason will come up with their own implementation of the CloudBook. In any case, I'm hoping that the CloudBook will mature as a product by the end of the year (with a 9" screen and a properly developed gOS).

From reading articles and comments on various websites devoted to the CloudBook I am getting the sense that a) CloudBook fans in general are not necessarily being turned off by the problems that have been identified in the first batch and b) although ZaReason lost money in the end due to pre-order cancellations (responsibility for this outcome rests with both Everex and ZaReason . . . oh yeah, and with me too), their involvement with the CloudBook generated a lot of positive publicity for them.

This is a great site for learning about the CloudBook http://www.cloudbooker.com/

And now, for something completely different:

Can You Spot the Difference?