Roadmaps are the lifeblood of high-tech marketing. Reassuringly precise, they show that despite any evidence to the contrary, company planners have a solid strategy for the years ahead, with a regular supply of new and exciting products scheduled to come rattling in as the seasons change. Alas, real life rarely reads maps: this week, we've had Intel being rather reticent over exactly what it means by "Prescott in Q4", and conversely Microsoft saying that the next service pack for XP would be later this year, not late next year as the Web site roadmap said.
It might be more fun to do it the Chinese way: keep absolutely shtum for a year or two then announce the rocket's going up tomorrow. OK, so it makes it harder for your salesforce to get out there and extract promises of money, and it would badly curtail the wholesale peddling of semi-informed speculation on which so many of us IT hacks rely, but neither of these are essential to the great march of progress. We're already used to well-drilled cadres of marketing people standing ramrod straight behind the podium as they announce total devotion to the motherland and utter faith in the wisdom and greatness of their leaders. It's only a small leap to dressing them up in natty uniforms with funny hats, awarding them medals for notable efforts in the constant fight against the running-dog forces of reaction and exploitation, and perhaps a little drill practice on a Monday morning.
All companies are de facto dictatorships: democracy has little to say about the inner working of yer average capitalist conglomeration. CEOs the world over are fond of military analogies, especially when it comes to motivating the workforce in the face of competition. Some even fly their own jet fighter aircraft. So take the next logical step, chaps. Discipline, that's what this industry needs, and let the only roadmaps be those showing the invincible advance of the forces of foot, company car and heavy delivery vehicles on the stronghold of the opposition.