Fear, uncertainty and doubt

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Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative (and vague) information on a competitor's product. The term originated to describe misinformation tactics in the computer hardware industry and has since been used more broadly. FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear.


[edit] Definition

FUD was first defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Corp.: "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products."<ref name="Amdahl">Gene Amdahl, quoted in Eric S. Raymond, The Jargon File: FUD".</ref> The term has also been attributed to veteran Morgan Stanley computer analyst Ulrich Weil.

As Eric S. Raymond writes: "The idea, of course, was to persuade buyers to go with safe IBM gear rather than with competitors' equipment. This implicit coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed over the future of competitors' equipment or software. After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon." <ref name="raymond">Eric S. Raymond, "The Jargon File: FUD".</ref>

Opponents of certain large computer corporations state that the spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt is an unethical marketing technique that these corporations consciously employ.

By spreading questionable information about the drawbacks of less well known products, an established company can discourage decision-makers from choosing those products over its wares, regardless of the relative technical merits. This is a recognized phenomenon, epitomized by the traditional axiom of purchasing agents that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" equipment. The result is that many companies' IT departments buy software that they know to be technically inferior because upper management is more likely to recognize the brand.

[edit] Recent developments

The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.
Although once it was usually attributed to IBM, in the 1990s and later the term became most often associated with industry giant Microsoft.<ref>Microsoft soon picked up the art of FUD from IBM, and throughout the 80's used FUD as a primary marketing tool, much as IBM had in the previous decade. They ended up out FUD-ding IBM themselves during the OS2 vs. Win3.1 years.</ref> The Halloween documents (leaked internal Microsoft documents whose authenticity was verified by the company) use the term FUD to describe a potential tactic, as in "OSS is long-term credible … [therefore] FUD tactics cannot be used to combat it."<ref name="Halloween">Open Source Initiative. "Halloween I: Open Source Software (New?) Development Methodology"</ref> More recently, Microsoft has issued statements about the "viral nature" of the GNU General Public License (GPL), which Open Source proponents describe as FUD. Microsoft's statements are often directed at the GNU/Linux community in particular, to discourage widespread Linux adoption, which would hurt Microsoft's market share.

[edit] SCO vs. IBM

The SCO Group's 2003 lawsuit against IBM, claiming $ 5 billion in intellectual property infringements by the free software community, is seen by many inside and out of the open source community as FUD. IBM noted in its counterclaim, that SCO is spreading "fear, uncertainty, and doubt".<ref name="groklaw">The SCO Group v IBM - answer to amended complaint and counterclaims (Undecided, US District Court - Utah, Kimball J, filed 6 August 2004) Section E, paragraph 22</ref>

There has been no evidence presented that IBM violated SCO's intellectual property rights by distributing a Linux distribution with copied code. A months long study commissioned by SCO before the legal action "...found absolutely *nothing*. ie no evidence of any copyright infringement whatsoever."<ref name="IBM-459-22">[http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/IBM-459-22.pdf SCO internal email from Reg Broughton to Darl McBride, dated August 13, 2002</ref> and no published accounts uphold SCO's position of stolen code.

Judge Kimball wrote in her order limiting SCO's claims: " The court finds SCO’s arguments unpersuasive. SCO’s arguments are akin to SCO telling IBM sorry we are not going to tell you what you did wrong because you already know...SCO was required to disclose in detail what it feels IBM misappropriated...the court finds it inexcusable that SCO is...not placing all the details on the table. Certainly if an individual was stopped and accused of shoplifting after walking out of Neiman Marcus they would expect to be eventually told what they allegedly stole. It would be absurd for an officer to tell the accused that “you know what you stole I’m not telling.” Or, to simply hand the accused individual a catalog of Neiman Marcus’ entire inventory and say “it’s in there somewhere, you figure it out."<ref name="article_20060628203537917">The SCO Group v IBM - ORDER GRANTING IN PART IBM'S MOTION TO LIMIT SCO's CLAIMS (Undecided, US District Court - Utah, Kimball J, filed 6 August 2004) Section IV, paragraphs 33,34</ref>

The fact that there is no substantiation of the claims didn't stop SCO from launching a very public fear campaign in 2003.

[edit] Darl McBride, President and CEO of SCO:

  1. "IBM has taken our valuable trade secrets and given them away to Linux,"
  2. "We're finding...cases where there is line-by-line code in the Linux kernel that is matching up to our UnixWare code"
  3. "...unless more companies start licensing SCO's property...[SCO]may also sue Linus Torvalds...for patent infringement."
  4. "Both companies [IBM and Red Hat] have shifted liability to the customer and then taunted us to sue them."
  5. "We have the ability to go to users with lawsuits and we will if we have to, “It would be within SCO Group's rights to order every copy of AIX[IBM'S open source UNIX] destroyed,"
  6. "As of Friday, June 13[2003], we will be done trying to talk to IBM, and we will be talking directly to its customers and going in and auditing them."IBM no longer has the authority to sell or distribute AIX and customers no longer have the right to use AIX software"
  7. "if you just drag this out in a typical litigation path, where it takes years and years to settle anything, and in the meantime you have all this uncertainty clouding over the market..."
  8. "users are running systems that have basically pirated software inside, or stolen software inside of their systems, they have liability." <ref name="Darl_McBride_Quotes">[http://www.groklaw.net/quotes/showperson.phtml?pid=1 </ref>

...and on and on.

The campaign evidently worked as SCO stock skyrocketed from under $5 a share to over $ 20 in a matter of weeks in 2003. It has since declined to around $ 2 as it has posted losses of nearly $ 40 million since 2003. <ref name="SCO_stock">[http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=SCOX&a=03&b=21&c=2002&d=11&e=01&f=2006&g=m</ref>

How does this relate back to Microsoft? Well SCO would not have been able to launch the legal attacks without the $ 50 million in backing it recieved from a venture capital firm named Baystar. Baystar front man Larry Goldfarb in a sworn deposition, stated "Sometime in 2003, I was approached by Richard Emerson [Microsoft's senior vice president for corporate development and strategy] about investing in SCO, a company about which I knew little or nothing at the time. Mr. Emerson stated that Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system." <ref name="Forbes">[http://www.forbes.com/home/technology/2006/10/11/sco-ibm-microsoft_cx-dl_tech_enter_1012sco.html</ref>

Which brings us to 2006's controversy over Microsoft, Novell, and Steve Ballmer's threats to sue Linux users for intellectual property rights infringement.<ref name="put_up_or_shut_up">[ http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2006/11/put_up_or_shut.html</ref> Is Microsoft going to use some of its massive cash reservoir to launch legal action against users of Linux? Or is Ballmer engaging in FUD marketing to spur sales of the $ 400 Vista OS?

[edit] More on FUD

The claims made by some members of the GPL community about the dangers and threats to freedom of software from non-GPL sources, such as proprietary software vendors or non-copyleft licenses, are described by some supporters of proprietary software as FUD.[citation needed]Free software advocates sometimes call someone making a FUD smear against GNU/Linux or other open source projects like Mozilla Firefox a "FUDdy-duddy."[1]

FUD, like any pejorative, could be used to "smear" criticism or legitimate debate, even in cases where the allegation of FUD is without merit or is merely implied. This tactic is often used in cases where the initial publicity surrounding claims of FUD is likely to vastly overshadow any subsequent retraction. [citation needed] This is an example of the logical fallacy known as ad hominem circumstantial. Note that "logical fallacy" can be used as an ad hominem circumstantial claim in a FUD attack, and that accusing an attacker of the error he complains about is a common rhetorical device.

At the same time, those being accused can attempt to dismiss criticism as simply being FUD tactics. For example, when Steve Ballmer of Microsoft discusses defects in Free/Open Source Software without mentioning the much more serious defects in Microsoft products, Microsoft can claim that accusations that this is FUD are themselves FUD. Microsoft points to the aggressive anti-Microsoft stance many advocates of Free/Open Source Software take, for example on the website Slashdot. It is claimed that less radical members of the Free Software community say that the anti-Microsoft and anti-proprietary stances taken by these advocates often involve using FUD of their own. [citation needed]

Bill Gates's widely reported disparaging of the MIT $100 laptop being made by One Laptop Per Child, while Microsoft agressively pursues markets in developing countries, can be considered classic FUD. Gates has gone further, claiming, "The mothers are going to walk right up to that computer and say, 'My children are dying, what can you do?' They're not going to sit there and like, browse eBay," in attempted contradiction of the fact that art and craft items made by formerly-poor people are sold on eBay and Overstock.com, with more than 60% of the final selling price going to the makers.

Microsoft donates software "worth" hundreds of millions of dollars (if-sold valuation) that cost it nothing more than the CD-ROMs. The much larger quantity and variety of Free Software available is treated as if it had no value, precisely because it is all free (no cost to users). The Free Software community regards its contributions as of much greater value than any amount of proprietary software, both because there is far more of it (thousands of packages), and because it is Free (as in Speech) for users to modify and learn from the source code. In addition to donations, Microsoft has partnered with (or "subverted", in another view) Grameen Foundation USA and the Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka.

[edit] Non-computer uses

Main article: appeal to fear

FUD is now often used in non-computer contexts with the same meaning. For example, in politics the tactic is often used to attempt to alter public opinion on a particular issue or on an opposing group. Often, one group will accuse another group of utilizing FUD. Many critics of George W. Bush accused him of using a FUD-based campaign in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.<ref>http://www.goesping.org/archives/2004/10/30/the-anti-kerry-fud/</ref> Bush supporters also accused their opponents of using FUD by spreading rumors about a possible military draft should Bush be re-elected [2].

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

This article is based in part on the Jargon File, which is in the public domain.cs:FUD da:FUD de:Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt es:FUD fr:Fear, uncertainty and doubt it:Fear, uncertainty and doubt he:Fear, uncertainty and doubt lt:FUD nl:FUD pl:FUD fi:FUD sv:FUD uk:FUD zh:FUD

Fear, uncertainty and doubt

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