Let's compare Motorola's Cyber Monday about-face with Obama's on HealthCare.gov

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The public is inundated with grand promises of a new market paradigm made possible by the disrupting powers of the Internet. Only thing: The Web interface of this new paradigm turns out to be an unmitigated catastrophe, which is followed in short order by a very public apology along with promises to do what ever it takes to make things right.

That’s the basic storyline of the federal government’s problems with HealthCare.gov, but as it turns out, it’s a script that’s been almost completely followed by Motorola’s borked Moto X Cyber Monday promotion.

On Monday, Googlerola offered the public $150 off its flagship Moto X phone via the customizable MotoMaker site. But the site wasn’t able to handle the traffic generated by the deal—even those who got in the system were sometimes left unable to complete the action.

Moto maker

In response to the website problems, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside offered an apology along with a promise to relaunch the deal on Wednesday, December 3 beginning at noon EST; there will be an additional promotional day on Monday, December 9. (FTR, this is for the regular version only—all tweakable Developer Editions were sold out in the Monday deal).

Woodside was able to whip up a response to the digital shortcomings fairly readily. Perhaps this was made possible by taking lessons from President Obama’s speech on October 21 in which he vowed to fix and relaunch the problem-plagued Affordable Care website.

We, of course, have no way of knowing the exact process of crafting Woodside’s letter, but the similarities are interesting:

We know you’re frustrated, so are we!

“The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it; they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed.”—Barack Obama

“I want to apologize to our customers and fans for the issues we experienced on our website with our Cyber Monday promotion. I want you to understand what happened, and what we are doing to rectify the situation.”—Dennis Woodside

We were just too popular

“Of course, you’ve probably heard that HealthCare.gov—the new website where people can apply for health insurance, and browse and buy affordable plans in most states—hasn’t worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work. And the number of people who have visited the site has been overwhelming, which has aggravated some of these underlying problems.”—Obama

“[W]e misjudged the overwhelming consumer demand for Moto X, which was far greater than we expected. Second, our pre-sale site testing was not sufficiently extensive. Testing failed to reveal weaknesses caused by large volumes of concurrent orders flowing through the MotoMaker customization engine.”—Woodside

Fear not, we have a game plan

“We’ve had some of the best IT talent in the entire country join the team. And we’re well into a ‘tech surge’ to fix the problem. And we are confident that we will get all the problems fixed.”—Obama

“We have since found a solution that we believe addresses the concurrent order issue. Motorolans are hard at work right now, implementing that solution.”—Woodside


“And I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am—precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work. I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So I want people to be able to get this great product. And there’s no excuse for the problems, and these problems are getting fixed.”—Obama

“On behalf of all Motorolans, I apologize for what occurred today. I appreciate your understanding as we get this fixed in time for Wednesday and Monday.”—Woodside

Politics and industry can learn a lot from each other in regard to making large scale organizations function. But they can also learn a lot from each other on the occasions when they totally screw things up. #Convergence.

This story, "Let's compare Motorola's Cyber Monday about-face with Obama's on HealthCare.gov" was originally published by TechHive.

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