REDMOND, WA: The press was left confused last week over the latest project from Microsoft: the iLoo, a port-a-potty with an internet connection.
For days it was unclear whether it was a legitimate project or a hoax. However, it was real - for a short time. Microsoft spoke to the British press about the concept a couple weeks ago, and word spread to the US, where it made the media rounds.
But Microsoft ended the project, saying it was not good for the company's image. Spokespeople from Microsoft and Waggener Edstrom then issued contradictory statements, saying the iLoo was real one day, and wasn't the next.
"There definitely was some miscommunication internally," said Lisa Gurry, Microsoft group product manager.
The media has now focused on the communications breakdown more than the iLoo itself, calling it everything from a PR embarrassment to a credibility problem to a PR debacle.
"We know we're a pretty broad target," said Gurry. "And it's easy to see why the iLoo is easy for the press to have fun with. But our objective now is to make sure the facts get out, and make sure the press knows there was some miscommunication on our part - even if we end up with a bit of egg on our face."