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Liebermann 'not a hoax', founders insist

Controversial PC vendor posts rationale

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Colourful computer company Liebermann, which last October announced it was to close, has posted a 42-page letter (PDF) detailing its bizarre attempt to carve a niche in the high-end PC market.

Six months ago, Liebermann admitted it was "no longer in a position, from a financial standpoint, to continue doing business". The screed released today suggests it never was in such a position - it was, from the start, a "zero-budget business" unable to fulfil many of the orders it received, its founders admit.

Yet they also claim it had a "proven profitable business model". Go figure. Maybe they shouldn't have put all this profit back into "more development, better designs, better customer support and better products".

The hyperbole for which the company is justly infamous - it offered a "a completely overhauled version of Microsoft Windows XP Professional featuring groundbreaking performance", apparently - continues in today's open letter, which describes Liebermann as a "culture shock", a "revolution", "too dangerous" and the "most talked-about, loved and hated" PC company in the industry.

The company continues to deny that it was a hoax operation, but when you spend more time making fantastic claims for future products, getting unavailable-to-the-public kit onto TV shows and the "covers of leading magazines", and dealing with major IT companies beating a path to their door (allegedly) than shipping products to paying punters, it seems near enough a prank as makes no odds. The company's two founders - "a young Hollywood filmmaker" and "a young business college graduate and part-time horse trainer" - certainly appear to have been more focused on establishing a presence than actually running a business. How could they, with no other employees, as they claim?

Still, they say, these two - or is it just one; the document is ambiguous on this point - managed to put in place "multi-million dollar domestic and international distribution agreements for all its product line". Apparently.

But what about the products? Certainly there were plenty on the company's web site. But with just two - or one? - persons working, where did they find the time to come up, as they claim, with umpteen notebook models; desktops; workstations; servers; media centres; PDAs; three-, four- and five-panel monitor rigs; super computers and so on? No wonder they couldn't fulfil all the orders they received - they were too busy coming up with all this stuff...

No wonder they had, by their own admission, "yet to... manufacture and deliver the product sought after".

Liebermann rounds off the document with dozens of emails allegedly from computer users around the world. Curiously, rather a large number of them are not from customers but from folk keen to wish the company well. Not a few express their "shock" and "devastation" on hearing the news the Liebermann is going out of business.

From their tone, it's clear some of these folk are among those people who believed Liebermann was indeed a hoax. As we say, the gap between hoaxers and companies that tout fantastic products while admitting they may never be able to ship them is a narrow one. But then how many genuine IT firms can claim never to have done that themselves at some point? The IT industry's vapourware tally extends beyond the list of products that have actually shipped. And many items that did arrive did not offer all that they had promised.

If Liebermann was not a hoax, as its founder(s) maintain, it certainly is/was an exaggerated, highly-stylised image of the industry as a whole. And, defunct, it's still making headlines. ®

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