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So Many Changes, So Little Time
By mid-year, Intel had their 233MHz MMX processor available, AMD had the K6-200 released, and Cyrix had the 6x86MX processor almost ready. Now everyone had MMX, AMD was no longer considered a loser and the PII was right around the corner. News leaked out that the HX chipset was at end of life, and well established boards like the IT5H and P55T2P4 would disappear. People began to look at alternative chipsets, since Intel was obviously abandoning the Socket 7 market. All of a sudden, instead of the CPU, chipset and motherboard market being dominated by Intel, there appeared to be many viable solutions.
On the down side, a number of manufacturers had some problems with their motherboards supporting Parity and/or ECC. This caused a *major* headache for ABIT (and a minor one for Tyan). SDRAM was the bane of the industry for awhile. Everyone wanted to have it, but manufacturer’s couldn’t figure out how to make it work in pairs – or sometimes just singly! Busmastering was getting a lot of attention, but most people either couldn’t figure out where to get the right drivers, or they simply didn’t get any benefit due to the nature of the technology. Intel began pre-announcing product and leaking price cuts. This paralyzed the customers who didn’t want to pay too much for their product. As a result, sales plummeted in the industry from about May through October.
Many consumers probably didn’t see it, but vendors and manufacturers alike endured one of the *worst* summers the industry has seen. Not only were sales very slow, but profits were also down as cost-concious consumers looked for every bargain they could find. No-name manufacturers and heavy imports helped to drive prices (and profits) even lower. We have heard from many of our suppliers that they lost quite a few accounts during this time – apparently from going out of business.
We also had our problems, but were able to stay afloat by cutting costs, reducing our markup (to spur sales) and having some extremely good relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. We also learned a great deal about credit card fraud, and the complete lack of support by MasterCard and Visa for their merchants (especially mail order). A small misunderstanding between ABIT USA and ourselves caused even more problems, especially when the IT5H, AX5 and PX5 issues emerged. I would have to say, however, that the greatest reason for our ability to stay in business was the incredible support and assistance from Tom Pabst and Bryan Davis. These two webmasters have been a joy to work with.
So, Here We Are…
Well, it seems that things are looking better for the industry and ourselves. Sales are up and availability of some product is better than anticipated. One item that I simply must mention is the support from other vendors in the industry. While officially competitors, a few of the owners of well known companies have emailed me to let me know that they enjoy our articles, wish us luck and offer their assistance if necessary. To be honest, I am amazed and moved by some of the comments and support. While I have written some articles slamming the dishonest vendors, let me tell you that there are some very fine people trying to provide the best service and products they can.
I have also written articles regarding some customers that we had difficult times with. Some of them are still difficult customers, however I have also been surprised on this front. I have had a few customers email me to apologize and to try to work out the problems. Though a few weeks ago I was very upset and disappointed with the current state of affairs, I must now say that I have been ‘uplifted’. My faith in humanity has been restored.
Is it just because of the season? Are people just feeling they need to tie up loose ends before the end of the year? I would like to think not. I believe that things move so fast, that sometimes we get caught up with the urgency of it all, and forget that we are dealing with people, after all. Sometimes we just have to step off the train for a moment so we can appreciate how much everyone else does to keep things going. The passengers are just as important as those running the railroad, and the railway workers are having to travel the same route as the passengers.
I think that what we are seeing is a transition of sorts. The way we treat people has developed from the way we historically have interacted with them. Before electronic communication, all contact was face to face, which brings with it a certain amount of caution and respect (generally speaking). With the advent of telephone, fax and now email, it is too easy to forget that you are really dealing with another human being, so sometimes people treat others more harshly than they otherwise would. As our use of these media increase, and we all feel the effects of this use, perhaps we will develop the unspoken rules that govern face-to-face communication and we will be able to avoid most of the problems we now must deal with
Wishing Everyone a Wonderful New Year
I would again like to extend everyone (customer and non-customer, supplier and manufacturer, competitor and associate) a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. I also recognize that some of our visitors have different customs, and therefore may not be celebrating our holidays or our new year, but I have the same wish for you now and *whenever* you have your celebration. The year 1997 is almost behind us, and all the events as well – both bad and good. The new year will most certainly bring more of these, along with more editorials and articles, but for now…
Bless Each and Every One of You
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