found drama

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by Rob Friesel

File this under the “Semi-Mindless Pondering” department…

I’m wondering how much of articles like this one and this one are hype. There’s a fine line between running out of stock because you didn’t anticipate the demand and attempting to cultivate an increased perception of value by engineering a stock shortage.

I won’t profess to know a lot about their historical sales figures but it seems like this would not be the first time that something like this has happened. I’ve got a little reference that suggests this is a case of “demand forecasters” not knowing what they’re doing (check #9). My own personal speculation is that we’re seeing a little bit of bad forecasting but also a touch of the engineered drought.

Almost everything on’s store that boots up says that it’s shipping same day. Contrast this with iPods that are shipping “1-3” or “3-5” business days after the order (the iPod Photo being the exception here…). And yet we have all these retailers (particularly in the UK) saying that many items are selling out and/or are practically “unobtainable”. No doubt, the demand is high. No doubt, the iPod has been the bait to hook so much of this interest.

And if any of those ‘pod-hooked folk have had my experience, there’s no wonder they want to get all their hardware on the same page.

So why the all the reported shortages? If Apple is the root of its own product paucity, they’d be wise to do this lightly and with some calculated caution. If items are out of stock but obtainable within a few days, this suggests the items are popular and that while not always immediately available, the goods can be gotten without an unreasonable wait. This is a company whose popularity is on the rise and just didn’t anticipate the flood. Anything beyond a week and we’re not doing OK. This is a company who is either playing with your emotions intentionally or else had not even the vaguest clue that the demand would reach its height. Which would seem pretty damn unlikely for a company that spent umpteen million bucks on a seriously slicked up series of ad campaigns.

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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