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June 2003

Very little is absolutely sold out

NewsWire Editorial

“Let’s go see the Spurs beat the Lakers,” I said to my partner Abby. I had my payday in my pocket, and an NBA playoff game was tipping off later that day down in San Antonio. We’d put our issue to press, and had time to play. What we did not have were tickets to the most anticipated NBA game of the year.

But I did have a secret, one I learned from an HP Platinum partner that I’ll share with you. Nothing is ever absolutely sold out. You want to remember that in the months and years to come, while you search for more 3000s, migration advice, or anything else reputed to be in short supply.

Birket Foster showed me the lesson through a sporting event, played on an open evening during last year’s Interex Solutions Symposium. The San Jose Sharks were playing hockey, and the Web site reported the game was sold out. Not really, Birket said, and we drove to the HP Pavilion arena to learn that good seats had just been turned back to the box office. We got in for the face price of the tickets, because we showed our faith and money when it mattered.

In San Antonio, Abby and I had both faith and money, being Spurs fans who’d just gotten their payday. She gave me basketball during our courtship. I wanted to return her gift and lead us to a playoff game. We knew nothing about the arena, still in its first year. We drove down expecting something good to happen, though. When you believe in abundance like she does, it can be catching. I scanned street corners while she approached the parking lot.

“Over there,” I said, sitting in my usual navigator’s chair while Abby did the piloting. “He’s waving tickets.” A short Hispanic man stood in the heat, fanning himself with four tickets that he held out toward the passing cars. We pulled over to the curb.

“Whadda ya got?” I said. It’s the opening gambit in the deal, I’ve learned.

“Seats in the lower section,” he replied. “Good seats.” Abby and I looked him in the eye, and he gave us more story. “We stood in line for some returns last week, and I’m trying to get some money together for a vacation.”

We haggled a little, getting to know one another. They were truly good seats, and we only paid about $30 over face value at the last minute. We paid for our parking, then watched Kobe dazzle through a last-quarter Lakers surge, then Shaq foul out, and the Spurs win. The top of the SBC Center vibrated like a kettle drum with the cheers. Good things can be had, even late, if you carry belief next to your wallet.

That belief can be hard to come by, especially when you hear about a sellout. We’ve heard from customers who worry about the future, and what will be available for them to buy. HP did its best to convince Series 9x7 owners that parts were going to be scarce soon. At the Solution Symposium in Valley Forge one reseller said he was giving away a Series 957 — or would, if anybody would pay the shipping. The shortage of 9x7s hasn’t shown up yet.

A few days before we scored our playoff tickets on the street, a reader called to ask about how much 3000 hardware was going to be available. He’s in a MANMAN shop — there’s many more of those out there than even MANMAN’s owners know about. He wants to homestead on his 3000, but asked if it might be tough finding hardware.

I gave him the names of a couple of resellers — you might think of them as brokers — and assured him there was more hardware out there than he’d ever need. Heck, even HP will stay in the 3000 hardware biz next year. Not selling full systems, but everything except a chassis and power supplies. By the way, those components are the same on HP 9000 N-Classes, already on the used market.

Migration expertise might operate a bit differently, but only a bit. Early in the migration playoff season you were told there’s a limit to how many experts will be available to consult. I believe the market will set the limits. It’s going to cost more to make a transition later on, just like those great Spurs seats cost us more than face value. But if you need to wait for your IT department’s budget to catch up, like we had to wait for payday, what else can you do? Keep your faith handy, and believe it won’t cost too much more than spending early.

I tested this high availability theory later in the month on another sports event. I took a baseball trip with my son Nick, and we’d planned to see two games in Pittsburgh at that town’s great PNC Park. We bought tickets online for the first game, but none for the second night. We believed we could do better by shopping late, directly in the market on the street.

We hadn’t even walked across the Allegheny River bridge that leads to the park when a guy with tickets asked us did we need any. Mind you, we didn’t, for that night; we had our online tickets with us.

“Naw, I’m okay for tonight,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, though.”

“Tomorrow night? I got those, too,” the fellow said. Minutes later we had the next night’s seats, behind home plate, bought for less than face price. We could see those street-bought seats real well from our online-bought, outfield seats.

What kind of steals like that are out there, unsold? Nobody knows for sure. But Allegro’s Stan Sieler took me to Berman Auctions in Silicon Valley this spring. The company carries a warehouse full of old computers, everything from ancient HP Unix workstations, the last generation of Macs, boxes of hard disks, tape drives ready for 3000s. Sieler says he’s seen plenty of 3000s move through Berman, which sells to brokers and dealers who sell to you. We walked through aisle after aisle of bundled lots, while forklifts carted more through the door. No 3000s that day, but Berman buys and sells every week.

Nothing’s ever absolutely sold out, it appears. The best deals come early, though. Shop as soon as your payday permits, but have faith in the free market. Abundance is your big ticket, waiting out there to make your future a cheerful place.

— Ron Seybold 

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