Published on November 11, 2004 By d3adz0mbie In OS Customization
Disclaimer: I don't claim to know everything. Stardock is a very successful and generous company that offers a variety of creative software to Windows users. The following is just my opinions and musings as to things Stardock could do to improve it's software lines. Take these entries for what they are... the ramblings of a guy looking for blog points.

DesktopX Marketing. First, I have to say I just wrote a very long article about this. I deleted it. Too many words. This entry is now much shorter, and to the point about how DesktopX could become a household name like Coca Cola or Xerox. But it's still long. So stick with it.
In Stardock Outsider, part.1, I threw out some ideas on how to make DesktopX more focused. If those ideas were to ever come true, this is the marketing campaign I've dreamed up to put DesktopX on millions of PC's:

1.) The tag line. "DesktopX. Magic on your desktop." Or something equating DesktopX to magic. To the average user, widgets need to seem like magic. Accomplishing everyday tasks at a glance or push of a button.

2.) Commercials. DesktopX needs to be on TV. How else is it going to reach millions of consumers? The marketing campaign is held together by a few neat visual effects and the concept of "magical widgets". Not like D&D magic, no wizards or dragons.

Commercial One: Is it magic?
Scene: Split screen. On left, woman, frazzled hair, sitting at computer working. Obviously frustrated with her computer. Background is grey and dull. On right, modern living room (out of Queer Eye or an Ikea catalog), sunny. Man (happy) walks into view and sits down at computer.
Man pushes a button on his keyboard, and DesktopX widgets pop up in the air in front of his face, floating between him and his monitor. Woman, frowning, looks across split screen quizzically.
Scene: Perspective changes to view of widgets floating in the air. Man touches Core weather widget, it slides open, he sees the forecast (sunny!). He touches it and it slides closed. He looks over at stock feed, sees all of his investments are up. Puts on his headphones, touches media widget and music (not audible) starts playing.
Scene: Back to split screen. Woman, now intrigued, gives a dirty look to her computer. Knocks on the split screen seperation (like knocking on a door). Catches mans attention. He takes off headphones, she points to his widgets floating in the air, with a pleading look on her face. He smiles and throws something from his keyboard (like he's pulled another one of these floating widgets from the keyboard) across the split screen. It lands on the womans computer, and a new set of widgets appear between her and her monitor. As the widgets appear, the room lights up and a smile appears across her face. Now that everything is ok, the woman happily starts checking her widgets (probably something to do with travel listings to a beach).

Words appear in lower right corner of the screen "DesktopX. Magic on your desktop"

Commercial Two: Magic Grandma
Scene: Older style living room (lots of lace, china), with a computer on a desk. Grandma comes strolling in with her purse, sits down. Punches a button on her keyboard, and a few widgets appear in the air between her and her monitor. She reaches into her purse, pull out a digital camera and plugs it in. A picture icon pops up in the air, next to a floating widget. She smiles, uses her hand to drag the picture onto the widget and an email pops up pre-addressed to Bobby, with a picture of grandpa dressed funny. Grandma types "Love Grandma" at the bottom of the floating email, then pokes the send button with her finger.
Grandma then touches the play button on another widget, and the house fills with music. She jumps up and starts dancing with grandpa, whos still dressed funny. Much laughing and smiling ensues as they dance off screen.

Words appear in lower right corner of the screen "DesktopX. Magic on your desktop"

There are many more, but thats enough to get the point across.

3.) Magazine ads. Following the theme of the commercial line, magazine ads are one shot ad spots that have to be right on. I would suggest running dual ads, one for DesktopX then one for DesktopX Pro on the following page. Ads for DesktopX could include a guy holding up a weather widget, with ad script like "Weather. At your fingertips" then at the bottom of each ad you'd get the tag line. An ad for the different core widget types could be done, with each person sitting at or standing behind a laptop or computer. And of course, an ad or two would need a swimsuit model, just for all the lonely single guys.
The following DesktopX Pro ads would focus on executives behinds desks, IT guys checking floating widgets hovering in front of servers. Complex widgets, with graphs, charts and data lists, but the same structure as the DesktopX ads. Just different people in different settings with more complex widgets.

4.) To brand DesktopX, its going to take more than just a few commercials and some magazine ads. You need a logo. Not like a comic book logo, but something stylish, modern, that will last the ages. Look at Sony, HP and Apple. All have killer logos. Simple, to the point. This is one of the best investments you can make. I know the current logo has been around for awhile, but it needs a bit of cleaning up. To be fair, which logo looks more modern, the Konfabulator puzzle-gear logo or the floating 3D shapes of DesktopX? (Puzzle-gear looks more modern, for those that dont know the answer). Fix it. Please.

5.) Clean up the DesktopX site, add a new download section to the DesktopX site that offers polished widgets directly from Stardock (or approved by Stardock, you could pull them off of Wincustomize if they meet the new quality standards). This would give DesktopX a central set of core objects that LOOK GREAT, without undoing all the hard work Wincustomize contributers have done. No submissions allowed to the DesktopX site, ONLY widgets offered by Stardock.Stop letting the good stuff get lost in all the sub-standard entries.

These ideas are lofty. Timelines could be put into place for launch of each phase of this campaign, step by step, allowing profits from one phase to pay for the next phase, each building on the success of the last. Branding, logo and website could start, moving into magazine ads, to the dual DesktopX/ DesktopX Pro ads, then to commercials. Implemented with the other suggestions in previous articles, we could be seeing DesktopX dominating the market in no time flat.

Market? What market? Here's the key to all of this. DesktopX, from my understanding, makes its money from corporate package sales. That should only be a part of the pie. DesktopX widgets should be broken down into 4 seperate catagories, for a better profit model, as follows:
1.) DesktopX Basic, freeware. Standard DesktopX with basic widgets. Is limited to what widget types can be used, outside of a core group designated by Stardock.
2.) DesktopX Basic, $10 registration. A small fee paid upon registration of the freeware package. Unlocks the entire Widget library. This is the standard base package.
3.) DesktopX Pro. $XX. Whatever Stardock wants to charge for this. Professional model with all the bells and whistles, in-depth scripting and customization features.
4.) Widget lease. $5 - $10 a month each. Super handy widgets that give people things like webspace to upload files to. Widget leasing is a model that has endless possibilities, and could be sold on a corporate level allowing companies like Vonnage to lease IP phone widgets to their customers. This is a business model I thought up in the shower a few days ago, so it still needs some grooming. (bad joke, I know)

So those are my ideas. Maybe flights of fancy, maybe just me being silly. But I think it could work. I've been a huge fan of DesktopX for years now, and I want more for it than to "just become another widget app", overshadowed by something as insidious as Konfabulator. Stardock can do it, either this way or another, but it can be done.
on Nov 11, 2004
Very interesting ideas DZ. I actually really like the way you described the commercials. I could clearly see them in my head and see the effectiveness of the idea. No worries about opening all the different programs to check things, just hit the overlay key and BAM, you have your stocks, email inbox, media gallery, weather, task list, etc right there. It could be great.

As far as the logo, I actually think the current logo is pretty cool, especially now that they polished it up some for 2.3.

I like your vision.
on Nov 11, 2004
Thanks BlueDev. The hardest part about writing this stuff about DesktopX and Stardock is to not get too carried away. Its amazing to me what Stardock has already done, so its a balance between not insulting them and not acting like Im on some pipe dream.

I took out a third commercial, which would push both DesktopX Basic and DesktopX Pro. If anyone shows interest I'll post it in here.
In the end, I know Stardock is really for the community. I've seen it for years. It would be kind of nice if that community had the vindication of the numbers - millions of users.
on Nov 11, 2004
I hear you. Folks at school ask me how I got my desktop looking so amazing, but immediately glaze over when I start telling them about Stardock products. I think if names like Desktop X or Windowblinds were more common parlance then people would be more open to the idea.
on Nov 12, 2004
Wow great stuff.  I'm going to try to find time this weekend to write a follow-up to your articles.
on Nov 12, 2004
One thing we have learned about sofware - in most cases, if $20 is too much, $10 is too much.
on Nov 12, 2004
And of course, an ad or two would need a swimsuit model, just for all the lonely single guys.<

Are you only marketing to men? Or did you mean to include a few ads with male body builders for all the lonely single women?
on Nov 12, 2004
BTW, DeadZombie, you can read your articles here too on the new WC:
on Nov 12, 2004
Well, I have to say I'm somewhat surprised to have these featured. Glad, but surprised.
When reading these articles everyone needs to know that I was a.) Doing it between projects and b.) coming off of a nasty flu. No spell checks were run (obviously), as I thought they were going to sit on my blog site and accumilate a few points.

That having been said, I believe in everything I wrote in this series. I really do think these visions I have for the future of DesktopX are possible. But it has to happen soon. The why to the urgency will probably the 5th article, coming soon to a Living Dead blog near you.
on Nov 12, 2004
zOmbie, another great article.

Only one question: "Are you looking for a job at StarDock?"

Oh, and by the way, not all Grandma's live in a house of fine lace, and antique china. Some us are into computers, and other geeky things, hence do not have room for those type of things.
on Nov 12, 2004
Am I looking for a job at Stardock?
I don't know what I would have to offer them other than a few outrageous comments every few weeks. I don't code. I rarely skin (my collection of skins over the past five years probably wouldn't take up the front page of WinCustomize). The areas I do excel at Stardock already has covered. And I have a pretty good job here at home. I work 24/7/365, but I love what I do.

That's not to say that if Brad ever called me up and said, "Zombie, I need you to manage this Stardock application and meet specific goals" I wouldn't consider it. I love new challenges and I like to excel.

Stardock is very capable. Very talented. And I can gaurantee you they already have an outstanding 'idea man' at their helm. I think he just gets a little busy at times.
on Nov 12, 2004
And yes, my wife, women will get buff male hunks pandering widgets, probably in magazines like Fitness and Good Housekeeping.
I can see it now, The Bridges of Madison County 2 DesktopX widget, lets women across the globe talk to each other about how moved they were.

Somebody shoot me, please.