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iLoo Version 3.0: Microsoft Claims Internet Toilet A Hoax, Recants - Real After All

iLoo Version 3.0: Microsoft Claims Internet Toilet A Hoax, Recants - Real After All

by , 8:00 AM EDT, May 14th, 2003

iLoo 1.0

In a series of bizarre moves from Microsoft that began with the introduction of the iLoo two weeks ago, Microsoft has issued conflicting claims concerning the would-be Internet-equipped toilet. As TMO reported when the product was announced, the iLoo was literally intended to be an Internet-connected public toilet, with a keyboard and monitor on the inside, as well as a display and keyboard on the outside for those waiting in line. The product was branded the iLoo, with "loo" being slang for a toilet in the UK, similar to the term "john" or "head" in the States.

iLoo 2.0

According to an AP report yesterday (via CNN), Microsoft claimed that the iLoo was nothing but a hoax perpetrated by the whacky UK Microsoft division.

"This iLoo release came out of the UK office and was not a Microsoft sanctioned communication and we apologize for any confusion or offense it may have caused," Microsoft spokeswoman Bridgitt Arnold said late Monday.

The AP also said that it had received confirmation from Big Redmond's PR machine on two separate occasions. In other words, Microsoft had officially confirmed the iLoo's existence, but still claimed the product was naught but a joke yesterday.

iLoo 3.0

The situation got a tad whackier after that, however, as the company reversed its earlier reversal late Tuesday, saying the iLoo wasn't actually a hoax, but for those keeping score at home, it was dead anyway. From an AP report on the situation:

"We jumped the gun basically yesterday in confirming that it was a hoax, and in fact it was not," said Lisa Gurry, MSN group product manager. "Definitely, we're going to be taking a good look at our communication processes internally."

"It's definitely not how we like to do PR at Microsoft," Gurry said.

[...]

On Tuesday, though, Microsoft said it had relied on bad information from a Microsoft employee in the United Kingdom who said it was a hoax, Gurry said. After more talks with people in London, the company determined it was a real project, after all.

The U.K. division likes to run clever and innovative marketing campaigns, Gurry said, and had thought an iLoo would appeal to the British. MSN typically allows its units to tailor their own campaigns to their regions, she said.

But MSN's executive team, which had heard of the iLoo through news reports, took the unusual step of killing the project on Monday, she said, believing that the portable toilet "wasn't the best extension of our brand."

You can find more information in the first AP report about the iLoo being a hoax, and the follow-up story about how the hoax claim was an accidental hoax.

The Mac Observer Spin:

We actually prepped this story on Tuesday afternoon, before the hoax announcement had been recanted. The TMO Spin for that story was as follows:

Hoax? How about "bad idea." This is opinion only, but we think there is no chance at all that the iLoo was intended to be a hoax. There was too much behind the introduction, and too much confirmation from Microsoft itself. It may well have never been sanctioned by Microsoft's US headquarters, but that doesn't mean that it is a hoax.

Be that as it may, we are delighted to know that this really bad idea is not going to be carried forward. Hoax or not, we shan't miss it.

Seems we were right. Microsoft backpedaled so fast, it didn't bother to get the facts straight, and released a very buggy statement to the press in the process. As usual, version 3 from the company got it right.

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