OK GE Ultrasound, it's time to put away your alphanumeric Dungeons and Dragons dice and get some actual humans to name your products.
In December, the FDA approved a product called the GE BT08 Ultrasound system. I thought this was a misprint and ignored it, but I later found FDA the document, located at the FDA site here. And there it was to my surprise: it appears that GE is renaming, or repackaging the GE Logiq 7 to be sold as the "BT08" ultrasound system. No big deal? Read on. This isn't about this one product, and I surely hope that the BT08 Ultrasound System is simply a placeholder name for something else, like Logiq 7 SuperAwesome Edition.
For those who don't know, the "BT0" moniker is reserved for GE's software levels. For example, if you want to buy a piece of GE ultrasound equipment, you would be given options of "BT0" levels of the ultrasound, like Voluson BT04 Pro or Logiq 9 BT07. The "BT" stands for BreakThrough, and the "02" stands for the (approximate) year it was released. The idea was that every year GE would have another "BreakThrough" on every product and, clearly, new customers would beg GE's sales reps to install GE's latest ultrasound ... and as a free bonus: Existing customers would throw money at their sales reps until the latest "BT0" was installed on their system.
Well, as it turns out, people don't upgrade that often when upgrades are either a) Lame, or b) So overpriced that you chose that BMW 3-series instead. But nonetheless it's a neat idea that keeps the stockholders happy and engineers on their toes (and quite annoyed).
But that's not my point.
So what's the big deal about using a name that's already established and represents something completely different? For starters, it worked fine with Windows when it went to Windows 95. Microsoft had missed so many deadlines that the '95 was a promise to its customers that the product would finally be released sometime in 1995. It was the software level and a "promise", not to mention that everyone who could read a newspaper knew what this was. Well, on GE's side, GE ultrasound is not Microsoft, does not have the media hype, and its ultrasound products have a much smaller market and more competitors than just Apple and NeXT. Yet, GE has more than 20 ultrasound products with "BT0" as part of its official name, many of which will have a "BT08" sometime this year, such as the currently available Logiq e BT08 and LogiqBook XP BT08 ultrasound systems.
I know that it seems silly for me to opine on such an issue, but let me illustrate GE's current market so you can understand why GE's tactics are annoying, confusing, and a bit ridiculous. Granted, I don't think GE is trying to confuse or outwit anyone. This is not about just the BT0 name, it's about all their names and how they continue to muddy their own waters.
But first, a disclaimer: This does NOT mean that GE's products suck. They don't. In fact, GE has some of the best products on the market, as I've reviewed here and on my website there are a couple products that are simply the best available. But GE's marketing and overall focus show that the inmates are running the asylum. When does Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of GE Clinical Systems, stand up and scream that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?!!?
Currently there are no fewer than 22 ultrasound systems available from GE. That's a lot, but maybe it's possible that someone can justify this. But ask any GE ultrasound salesperson, or any GE ultrasound manager for that matter, to truly differentiate these systems from one another... then have them tell it to a customer, who will undoubtedly look at them and say something impolite.
Don't believe me? Let's look at GE's products... All of these systems are currently available from GE in their non-cardiology packages and within about $25,000 in price range:
Logiq A5, Logiq P5, Logiq S6, Logiq 3 Pro, Logiq 3 Expert, Logiq 5 Pro, Logiq 5 Expert, Voluson 730 Pro
All of these are largely for the same overall market, and more are to be released this year. But only certain salespeople are allowed to sell certain types, which is why they have so many different product lines... politics, baby.
So why do I care? Great question. I'm just annoyed by the whole thing and it gets under my skin. If you read this far, it apparently gets under your skin, too. But maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way and customers like being overwhelmed. If it sells ultrasounds, then I guess it simply doesn't matter.
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