Monday, October 16, 2006

'Tis the Season

Ah the holiday shopping season is upon us. I know it's only the second week of October and we still have to get through high calorie holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving but still, go to many stores and you'll already see Christmas lights and big red bows beginning to adorn things. There was a radio station in DC that began playing Christmas carols 24 hours a day beginning on October 1st a few years ago. Needless to say, by the time the holiday season rolled around, people had had enough carols. You can also be assured that the person behind that brilliant decision quickly saw the error in that choice and didn't repeat it after that. But you can also tell that it is getting close to the holiday shopping season because many companies are starting to roll out their 'hot-ticket' gift items for the year already. I remember around this time last year was when the hype for the eagerly awaited XBox 360 was beginning to build. There had been long competition between the XBox and the Playstation 2 (PS2) which helped fuel the rivalry between the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3 (PS3). However, as the release dates neared, some interesting events took place.

Right around the time that retailers were beginning to take pre-orders from consumers, Sony announced that the PS3 would be delayed for some time. That time ended up being nearly a year. In the meantime, Microsoft readied to release the 360 on an eager consumer base. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to estimate the demand all that well. You see, even though many consumers put down deposits on the game system which guaranteed consumers a game system; it didn't guarantee them that they would receive it on the actual release date. As a result, on the actual release day, many stores had dozens of pre-orders and only a handful to actually sell.

I can remember watching on the news as irate customers cursed and cussed out store employees for this chicanery. I felt rather sorry for the employees simply because they didn't control the production of the system. Had it been in their hands after the verbal abuse many of them endured, there probably would have been enough 360's for every man, woman and child in America. Sadly, that was not the case. For months after the launch date, stores received their shipments a dozen or so at a time. It took months for the pre-orders to be filled and as a result, it took even longer for the system to actually hit the shelves for the average Joe consumer. Why did that happen?

According to Microsoft, they did admit that they didn't anticipate such high demand for the system and was ill prepared to answer the onslaught of irate customers. However, they were in the unique situation that they were in a monopoly as far as new gaming systems were concerned. Although the features on the 360 were a notch below what was anticipated with the PS3, the 360 ended up coming out on top since it was released on time. Knowing that there was demand out there and knowing that many more people wanted to get their hands on the system and seeing as how we were getting close to Christmas 2005, Microsoft did the only logical thing. They continued limited production.

A result of this was that customers still couldn't get their hands on the system. Those who were lucky or slick enough to get their hands on one found they could make twice the amount on eBay by selling it. With a bit of patience, they could eventually get their 360 for about the same amount and still earn a profit. People were shelling out top dollar to get one and a few short weeks later, you could literally walk into any store and get your hands on one. Now here we are almost a year later and Sony is finally on the ball. They still haven't learned lessons from Microsoft though. Word leaking out from retailers is that they will only accept limited numbers of pre-orders and even then it doesn't guarantee you a PS3. It does guarantee you a slip of paper and a promise that you will eventually get your system. Hmmm... anyone want to give me a hundred bucks? I'll give you a slip of paper too!


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad October is here. It is my favorite time of the year. When you start your holiday spirits in November, time flies and New Year is already there in no time. So, starting holiday spirits a month early is good (atleast for me). I wait all year for this time of the year to come and I will gladly hear all the Christmas carols and watch the lights and decorations in the shops and malls. Thats the fun part isnt it? And you are not getting the $100 for the slip ;-) I would rather have hot, holiday drinks with that money with my friend(s).


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