Trevor's Rant- by Trevor Smith

A funny thing happened to me in the computer store the other day. I was just cruising through the local mall and dropped into the software store, as is my habit. While there I was once again struck by the volume of DOS software still on the shelves (games) and the relative lack of Win95 stuff and complete absence of OS/2 software. But this is news to no one so I didn't let it occupy my mind for too long.

On my way out, I glanced at the counter where this particular store usually keeps the small boxes of CD-only Red-spine Warp (no manual, no tech support, CDN$49.95, available only in Canada) and noticed there was only one copy left and it was not in the groovy display box IBM ships them in. I wondered if that meant they were selling quickly so I asked the gentleman behind the counter.

Indeed, he said that it was, "just because of demand." Encouraged, I assumed this meant they were selling quickly and the store was awaiting another batch. It soon became apparent what he really meant.

He explained to me that they come in boxes of four or five and take a few months to sell. A few months to sell?!? I commented that for $50 people should buy them just to find out what it is! That didn't get a rise out of our professional friend behind the counter though. He let me in on an industry secret. If you promise to keep it to yourself, I'll share it with you.

He told me, "Yeah, well it's just that you can't get any applications for it." No, he didn't add, "around here," or any other qualifier. Now the thing you have to understand is that where I live on the east coast of Canada, although we have roughly half a million people in the local area, no one has bothered to stock any OS/2 apps to speak of yet. If he had said that you couldn't get OS/2 apps around here I would have agreed and been on my way. But there was something about this guy's attitude that made me take the bait.

Rather than give the lout the sound thrashing and good education he deserved, I swallowed and said the only thing I could think of: "But that's your fault, not IBM's." He stared blankly.

"What do you mean?"

Some more local background. I've been to a lot of stores in the Halifax area (including this one in the past) and asked to have OS/2 applications ordered for me. I did not ask the stores to stock OS/2 apps, mind you, just to order me one copy. At almost every store (including this one) I was told, "No." Not, "It will take a month," or, "It will cost an extra 20%." Just, "No."

So I told our uniform-clad friend, "I understand if you don't want to stock them, but you will not even order them. Since they do exist, I would say it's your fault that people can't get OS/2 applications." He stared blankly some more. After he realized I hadn't gone, he managed a murmured, "Er, well, we stock Mac apps and they don't sell very well." I reminded him that I wasn't asking him to stock anything, only pointing out that if the reason he claimed for OS/2's low sales in his store was accurate, then the store itself was directly responsible for those low sales. More blank looks. I assured him I wasn't trying to be rude, excused myself and left. Neither one of us could take much more of that.

So what about it? Do the morons in your local area use this circular logic without realizing who is originating it (them!)? I had realized there was a reluctance to stock items, and I could understand that, but these guys don't even realize that they are not responding to the problem, they are causing it! Brilliant folks.

Speaking of OS/2 software, I can't believe the craziness that erupted this month when Stardock announced the release date and upgrade pricing for Object Desktop v1.5. In a nutshell, some people believed that they should receive any upgrade for free and that giving it to some for free (those who purchased OD v1.0 after April 1st) but not everyone for free, was unfair. Uh huh.

To paraphrase my usenet post regarding these complaints, get a grip! Many shareware authors do have exemplary upgrade policies but they are not the norm for "commercial" vendors. For example, Lotus has recently announced the coming availability of Word Pro 96 for OS/2 with an estimated retail price of US$105 (on CD-ROM only), with a $20 in-box rebate coupon offered for all current Lotus product users. That's about a 20% discount. Stardock's upgrade price is $37 for registered users of OD v1.0 (instead of the full price of $89.95). That's more than a 50% discount--and it's free if you happened to buy OD v1.0 within the last month before v1.5 was released!

The way I see it, that's pretty generous. The way some people complain, it's no wonder software stores don't want to stock OS/2 products.

Trevor Smith is the editor of OS/2 e-Zine!. When he's not lecturing store clerks, he's lecturing you.

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