Leica customers were a crucial element in testing and developing the latest M9 and M8 firmware update. The intersection of Leica customers and product development is an interwoven fabric within Leica’s culture. In one interview with Stefan Daniel, Product Management at Leica Camera AG, he shared, “it says something crucial about Leica Camera itself — namely that it’s all about people — the dedicated people inside the company, and our demanding, critical, persistent, extremely loyal, and utterly wonderful customers.” The recent software release for the Leica M9 and Leica M8 is another example of Leica customers being an integral, and a very natural element in product development. In this instance, Leica Camera AG reached out to Leica forum members for the first time for their insight and critique. Here’s a behind-the-scenes conversation between Leica Camera’s Jean-Jacques Viau, Leica Internet Manager, and Andreas Jürgensen, head of the Leica Forum.

Jean-Jacques Viau: Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager of the Leica M-System, had the idea to let the members of the Leica Forum test the new M9 firmware (and later the M8). Leica uses our customers to develop our products and will continue to do so. It’s quite a natural relationship. This made sense to us. Forum members enjoyed this exercise, yes?

Andreas Jürgensen:Yes, this was a great experience where it was evident that forum users are really glad about being asked and involved in testing. When I asked my forum members for applications, we expected to receive about 200 and received almost 1000 applications!

Jean-Jacques Viau: We were excited to see that many applications too! Once we had the concept and technical preparation down, we let you take charge with the forum. We were working on a critical deadline so organizational skills were paramount! We appreciate your timely and thoughtful execution of this!

Andreas Jürgensen: Thank you – it was a learning process. After the application period, we sorted out about 80 testers based on what cameras and lenses they own and how active they are in the Leica Forum. These testers had to sign a short license agreement. After delivering the software 1.158 to our testers they started to test the new firmware with the whole of lenses they own in various lighting conditions. In about ten days our users identified a lot of issues with wide-angle lenses which allowed the developer to release another version 1.160 which was rated very good by all test participants.

In total, there were 980 applications, 80 testers and 700 postings by the testers!

As community manager I learned a lot about how to organize such tests and also how to improve the results for next time …

Jean-Jacques Viau: Yes, yes…there will definitely be a next time! We are always exploring how to connect with our users and get them more involved. Like I said, it is quite natural for Leica.

We thank all of the Forum members that participated in this experience with us. I’d imagine the users who downloaded the software are thankful too!

-Leica Internet Team

You can read more about the Leica User Forum on the website, www.l-camera-forum.com.