Dearth valley

Dearth valley

Now that it's all over, Matthew JC. Powell breathes a sigh of reliefWell, I hope everyone's happy now that the referendum thing is finished. I know I am. Not because I'm a particularly ardent supporter of the winning proposition, but because I really hate that song the "No" people put in the ads about how we want to vote for the hypothetical president.

Imagine the brief: "We want you to write a sort of True Blue style number, sung with a drawl that would sink ships, all about how this kind of constitutional reform is unpatriotic, and you'd prefer a different constitutional reform. And make it catchy." I pity the songwriter.

Anyway, it's all over bar the gloating, and we don't have to put up with any more one-upman style nationalism until the Olympics.

Which reminds me - did anyone else enjoy Michael Knight's explanation for the ticketing mess? He said that they didn't disclose how many tickets were actually up for sale, because it would have hurt the marketing campaign. He reasoned that if people knew how few tickets there actually were, no one would bother trying to buy them.

What tapioca-for-brains marketing nong told him that? Anyone in this industry could have told him that exactly the opposite is, always has been and always will be true.

There's a fellow who runs a com-puter store a couple of blocks from my house. He has a big whiteboard in the front window of the shop - not a computer, nor a display of software, but a whiteboard. The whiteboard lists his current super-whiz special of the moment, and in big red letters says "ONLY 15 LEFT", or whatever the number happens to be. Every so often he takes the whiteboard out of the window, erases the number and reduces it by one. I've never actually bought anything from him, but I can tell you that he has a steady stream of customers in and out of the store, and the number on the whiteboard reduces regularly. I don't even know if the number is true or not, but I do know that when it gets down to one or two left, there's always a little pang in my belly that says maybe I should go take a look just in case. I mean, what if I missed out on my last chance ever to get one of these fabulous whatsits at that fabulous price?

If Michael Knight and the SOCOG marketing folks had decided to run a campaign that said "you've got Buckley's against diddly chance of ever getting any tickets to this thing, so get your money in NOW NOW NOW", they'd be rolling in dough instead of batter. That's always been the Franklin Mint's approach, and it's served them well.

It also seems to be the approach being adopted by Australian distributors of movies on DVD. I've just rec-ently tossed my hat into DVD, having held off longer than I normally would on an emerging technology. A friend of mine asked me why I had held off on DVD for so long, and I explained that I was waiting for the industry to get behind the new technology. "But," he said, "Sony is supporting it. Once Sony's behind it, it must be a winner."

I responded with a single word: "Beta."

Anyway, my impression that DVD had reached critical mass came largely from looking at American Web sites that sell DVDs. Regional encoding isn't a barrier to me (I know people) so in terms of building my collection I have no problem buying from overseas.

But a few weeks ago I went out to a video store to rent a movie on DVD. Eye-opening, it was. Out of probably several billion films available from the store (slight exaggeration) roughly 12 were on DVD. In my cloistered little world, where the only light comes from a phosphor gun, I hadn't realised how few DVDs were actually available in region 4.

Of course, this was not an entirely bad thing. Of the 12 films, there were two that I had not seen. Of those two, I had not seen one of them by very deliberate choice. Thus, I was able to choose a movie for the evening within a few seconds of entering the video store. The entire trip took perhaps 10 minutes. Selecting a video hasn't been so quick and easy since I was using beta. It was like being a vegetarian: "Oh, I'll just have the salad, thanks."

So while the rest of the world is trying to promote the DVD format by making oodles of movies available, canny Australian marketing types are glomming on to the Franklin Mint approach and saying "get a DVD player - there's hardly anything you can watch on it".

Matthew JC. Powell is the editor of ARN's sister publication PC Buyer. E-mail him at matthew_powell@

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