Three small computers

A true story from the days before the IBM PC.

A small start-up made microcomputers for business in the days when they were still called microcomputers.

The company had one basic computer design. It was similar to every other CP/M computer on the market at the time. Except in one important respect: there were three versions.

Version one was the budget model. It was for buyers looking for a bargain. The second version cost almost twice as much. It was the mainstream model. At the top of the line was the professional version. This cost three times as much as the budget model. It cost more than almost every other CP/M computer on the market.

You can probably guess which was the most popular. The elite model sold more than the other two. A number of customers took budget models. Usually this was part of a multiple order where managers got elite computers and peasants got the budget ones.

The mainstream model barely sold at all.

As you’d expect there’s a sting in the tail of this story. Internally the three computers were identical. They had the same processor, same memory, same disk and ran identical software. The only difference was in the colour of the cases and the badges on the front of the machines.

The start-up computer maker was very successful and went on to other great things.

A computer maker couldn’t get away with this today – too many people would point out the emperor isn’t wearing his new suit.

Even so, there’s a useful lesson here.

Chasing Facebook

Craig McGill makes a good case for social media strategists not putting all their digital eggs in the Facebook basket at the Contently Managed website. His In Social Media strategy, should you put all your digital eggs in the Facebook basket? (Dead link) wisely warns that Facebook could go the way of sites like Friends Reunited, MySpace and Bebo,

McGill says old-fashioned websites should stay the mainstay of any strategy — because that’s where people buy things and learn more information.

Now that’s marketing….

Horse races

Betting on horses is “an investment”. Yeah right.

When I was at school my dad worked for a firm of bookmakers. I sometimes used to go to his office after lessons and wait for a lift home.

While I was there one day I saw some of the betting slips lying around. The company name was at the top, there was space to handwrite the bet and a column to add up the amounts.

The best bit was at the bottom where it said:

Total invested.

That’s right ‘invested’. Not squandered, risked, gambled or not-quite-lost-yet.

Talk about screwing with customer’s minds.