Here we are, well into the new year, hurt or glowing from the results of the last quarter of 1997, blaming Christmas shoppers for not buying, or congratulating ourselves on volumes sold in the sales. Does this sound like living on cloud cuckoo land?
The number of units sold after Christmas may have been what was required, but what about margins? Never mind that, let's be optimistic and promote the view that the pot is not half empty but half full.
If we are in that sort of mood - let's ignore the remains of winter, the gentleness of spring and the warmth of summer, and prepare the plans for September to Christmas and get ready to self inflict flagellation again.
What will we sell in those four months, at what price and specification? What does the customer want and what will we give the market? I don't know for sure but here are some ideas after my consultation with Mystic Meg, Russell Grant and my crystal ball.
What do we know and expect? The consumer market will be tougher and consumers more demanding. Where have you heard that before? Companies with business clients will probably find the going easier. Through the mist I see price points lower, margins tighter and specifications higher.
What, I wonder, must the professors at the business school make of our industry's economics? Never mind Macro or Keynesian economics, how about suicidal?
The UK tends to follow the American experience, particularly with Messrs Clinton and Blair in their special relationship.
If I am right, then current best sellers at #799 + VAT and #999 + VAT will become #399 and #599 respectively plus the dreaded VAT.
The mists are shrouding the vision, but I can see some categories showing through: Hybrids of Settop internet terminals and low-cost PCs using TV as the screen are showing - Entry-level #399 + VAT. Do I see an emerging market of new users with big growth at #599 + VAT? Yes, I do. I see traditional hot price points of #999 and #1,099, both + VAT, falling to #799 + VAT.
The market of replacement and enthusiasts will not be touched by the hand of fate. These are people who know how to shop and there will be many suppliers. The #1,199 + VAT and higher tickets will carry low margins.
The mists are clouding in and my vision is blurred. Meg and Russell are gone, but my faith is unshaken. Or is it?
Before closing, I must check my horoscope. Sagittarius is my sign and it reveals: 'Your concerns and worries about the industry in which you work are unnecessary. Relax more and everything will come right.
Spend more time with the family. Money matters will not be a problem after this weekend.' If only I could believe all this.
Colin Silcock is sales director of Granville Technology.
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