If you follow me on Twitter or know me in real life you’ve likely heard that I upgraded to the new version of the Kobo Desktop and eReader software. It was an awful experience that resulted in me resetting my unit to the factory defaults. This was particularly aggravating because the same thing happened the last time I upgraded the unit just a few short weeks ago – I had to call tech support then too and they also made me reset the unit.
It’s unacceptable that Kobo would ship two releases with the same bug – I mean, aren’t these sorts of problem reports what help add test cases to our test suites?
In any case, I wanted to share the letter I sent to Dan Leibu, Kobo’s CTO, and CCed to Mike Serbins, the CEO. I did get a DM back from the Kobo twitter account asking me to email my problem to a certain address. I did that yesterday morning, forwarding the letter below and a short email, and have yet to hear back. I put hard copies of the following note in snail mail yesterday afternoon. I wonder what/if I’ll hear back.
December 16, 2010
Mr. Dan Leibu
364 Richmond St West
Toronto, ON M5V 1X6
Dear Mr. Leibu:
I have been a proud Kobo owner since May 31 when I purchased my first eReader from Chapters. Despite numerous Kindle loving friends, including folks that work for the Kindle team, to me the advantage of the open format and the superior Canadian content made the decision to buy a Kobo an easy one. I received many questions from friends about my Kobo, and blogged a review that has been retweeted by several people, including Michael Tamblyn.
I am compelled to write you this letter because of my recent frustrations with your product. They are causing me to regret my decision and seriously contemplate switching readers to a Kindle. You are losing a big fan and vocal advocate.
Twice in the past 4 weeks I’ve been prompted to upgrade my desktop, and shortly thereafter, the eReader software. The first time I embarked on this without hesitation; the upgrade process in June was straightforward and trouble free, I had no reason to believe this would be any different. During the November upgrade, I followed the directions and after the upgrade completed, ejected the reader and turned it on – none of the books would open including the Kobo purchases and ePubs (both with and without DRM). I was quite upset. After a quick search that determined other folks had the same issue, I phoned customer support. A woman took me through several steps which did not correct the problem, and then had me reset my unit to the factory defaults. I was sorely disappointed to have to reset my entire library, but she told me this was the only way to have my device work.
This week I was excited to hear that the new software was out for the first generation Kobo users. I embarked on the upgrade process with some hesitation given my experience in November, but assumed that this upgrade path would have been tested. After all, this upgrade was targeted for first generation Kobo users, and since numerous people had the same issue as me with the upgrade in November I felt confident that the Kobo team would have ensured that this time around this upgrade path was tested – and worked.
Again, I installed the Desktop software and followed the directions to upgrade the eReader. This time, when I unplugged the Kobo I was able to open my books from the Kobo store, but none of the ePub books would open. I called technical support, and spent an hour on the phone with Borden. He was very patient, and took me through the same steps I had gone through in November – trying things like de-authorizing and reauthorizing the computer and reader in Adobe Digital Editions. None of them worked. He told me the way to fix it was, again, resetting the unit to factory settings. This is an unacceptable resolution to the problem.
I work in software, and understand that bugs happen; however, that the same issue should reoccur in back to back releases is unacceptable. Furthermore, one of the biggest selling points for the Kobo is the ability to read ePubs on the device; this upgrade path is one that is clearly supported and should have been tested. If there was knowledge that it would not work, then that should have been documented and users like myself could choose not to upgrade if the cost of the upgrade outweighed the perceived benefits. This also causes me to question whether the first generation Kobo users are being forgotten as your technical team focuses on the newer devices. That would be a serious mistake: it is us first generation users that are the early adopters and your first advocates.
I trust you will consider this feedback when delivering your next piece of software for the first generation units.
cc: Mike Serbins
Moral of the story: I’d strongly caution folks who use Adobe Digital Editions against upgrading their units unless you are prepared to reset to factory settings. I even saw someone on the facebook support page suggest that the factory reset be part of the upgrade install instructions. That’s so not cool.
And I still look forward to traveling with my Kobo and will use it happily (except during takeoff and landing of course). I get to carry 10+ unread books with me! And don’t have to worry about packing space or weight! Wahoo! I just hope I can make up my mind which one to read first so that I actually spend time reading and not just choosing!