We are now beginning a new topic survey. It appears from news reports that there is some significant disagreement about what impact the launch of the new Microsoft operating system - Vista - will have on the timing of PC purchases and if consumers will delay buying new PC’s for the Christmas holiday season.There seems to be lots of conversation about Vista and what system requirements will be needed, how much memory, speed, etc.
We’ll run our survey as follows. Call retailers globally and ask the questions:
Should we buy a PC now?
Is there a great sales?
Or should we buy one now because Vista is not that great so get an older O/S based PC now?
We believe the survey results will paint a vivid picture for PC demand at retailers in 4Q as the Vista delays potentially damage Christmas PC sales as the Vista launch slips to 1Q 2007.
Check back in a few days for the results.
We have concluded our survey on the Sprint launch of Motorola phones. The key dates we got were Nov. 3 or Nov. 10. We believe the evidence suggests November 3 makes sense as November, to electronics sellers means Christmas season, so waiting an additional week does not make alot of sense from either companies point of view (S or MOT). The question we asked was the following:
- Do you sell Motorola phones for the Sprint Network, not the Nextel Network?
- Are you expecting to get Motorola phones?
- What models?
We called Sprint retail outlets across the U.S. over the past 10 days to gather our survey data.
Key findings from our survey are the following:
Many sprint stores already are selling the Motorola c290 which is a low-end candy bar phone.
The Sprint retail workers are expecting to get the RAZR, SLVR and KRZR. No PEBL and no Q in the line-up for sprint.
Silverdale, Washington (a Seattle suburb) seems to be a test market for Motorola phones as the store there had the RAZR already. Could Seattle suburbs be the test market? Could be in our mind. Las Vegas has been a big test market for Sprint in the past but maybe it was time for a change.
Summarizing, it looks like January 15th roughly is the date for France and the UK while early to mid-December seems to be the expectation from retailers in Italy and Germany. While a little contradictory it seems to us that it is clear that the Zune will not be a Christmas item in Europe as the earliest launch dates seem too late.
We have continued to research potential launch date for the Microsoft Zune in the broader European market. Our latest survey has picked up the following data points.The question asked was: “When will the Microsoft Zune MP3 player be available in the store?” Many retailers did not know when the Zune would launch but a few offered some interesting insight, including the following key data points:
PC City (Paris, France) said that they expected to have Zune’s available at the start of 2007 (which we interpret to mean 1/1/07).
Comet (Cardiff, UK) said they “will be stocking it sometime, hopefully very soon” but no definite data given for launch in UK.
Euronics (Torino, Italy) said after December 15th of this year, echoing our earlier data point also from a retailer in Italy.
Atelco (Hamburg, Germany) Store employee assumes they will have Zune in early December. Could not provide a firm data but expectation seems to be for December.
Saturn (Graz, Austria) - Had no idea about the Zune or its availability.
Judging by these most recent channel checks it appears that December seems to be a good target for the launch date of the Zune in Europe. If our Euronics check is accurate, it would confirm the December 15th launch in Italy. Sounds like Germany and the UK could be on the same schedule. France and Austria appear fuzzier from these comments. We’ll keep working to get the most accurate read on Zune activity and key launch dates.
We completed our survey last night, just in time to capture the las hours of the Nintendo Wii pre-order process. Only 35% of the stores we contacted said we could even pre-order a Wii and the survey found fewer and fewer stores taking pre-orders as we closed in on Friday morning.In addition to inquiring about pre-orders we also asked which platform the Gamestop or EB Games employee recommended. Sony Playstation beat out the Wii by being the recommended platform at 43% of stores contacted while the Wii was recommded by 39%. Price was a large factor and some recommendations were based on the fact that the Wii will only be $250 versus either $499 or $599 for the Sony Playstation 3. 17% of our survey respondents recommended both platforms based on the age of the user. For under 13, the Wii was recommded and for games older than 13 the Sony PS3 was the recommended choice. It is interesting to us to note that the Microsoft Xbox 360 dominated our first Gamestop survey but not one survey respondent suggested this platform as an alternative to us. Looks like Microsoft XBOX could be facing some market share losses as the Wii and PS3 get into the marketplace.
Gamestop employees also told us that purchasing a Sony Playstation3 would be challending throughout the coming holiday season as most Gamestop have sold out of not only pre-order allotments but also expected inventory has been mostly spoken for informally. Demand for the Wii seems heavy as well and we were told to expect waiting times for these platforms even after the official launch dates.
We have launched a new survey at Gamestop (GME) and EB Games. The question we are asking this time is which game platform should a customer pre-order - The Wii from Nintendo or the Sony (SNE) Playstation 3?We are only asking Gamestop and EB Games (owned by Gamestop) to keep comparisons meaningful with our earlier surveys on gaming platforms since these are the same channel check data points in terms of store locations and personnel.
The Wii launches on November 19th so the pent up demand or frenzy to pre-order is much less than that of PS3 but we are interested to see which platform is going to be recommended by the Gamestop experts. Our first survey on the gaming platform area suggests that the Gamestop employees really prefer the Sony PS3 considering that in our first survey of top gaming platforms they suggested waiting for the PS3 over purchasing anything else at that time.
According to our findings we reported a December 15 release for the ZUNE. We noticed that over at ZuneInfo they say the official word from MSFT is NO, about the December 15 release of Zune. That may be the word from Redmond, however when we did our channel check, retailers in Italy were expecting to have the Zune for sale.This is not a “made up” rumor and is part of what we do here at ChannelCheckers, we take hot topics do a channel check then report the results. We’re not making judgements or predictive calls, just giving the data. The data points were from Unieuro the Eurpoean electronics retailer(part of DSGI), the store called was in Torino Italy. We will keep giving the facts as they come in, but we are doing different channel checks all the time.
Our survey on surf and skate gear maker Volcom is winding down. All the retailers we contacted, which consisted primarily of Pacific Sunwear retail outlets, but some independent surf and skate retailers, rated Volcom highly. The questions we asked were the following:1. What is the best brand of clothing for surf and/or skaters?
2. How is Volcom gear selling this month?
3. What is the store name and location.
Volcom was rated the top brand by the retailer employees in 47% of our calls. Hurley and Quicksilver were ranked as the top brands by 16% of the respondents. Billabong was the top brand according to 11% of our respondents while Reef was mentioned as the best brand down in Miami. Zumiez (ZUMZ) did not score any reccomendations and we heard that there are some problems with the Zumiez distributor (see below) Hurley was mentioned by many repondents as a strong number 2 brand when they rated Volcom number one.
Most of the retailers said that Volcom gear was selling fairly well particularly among young men and teenage boys. Not a big surprise there. Some of the more interesting comments included the following:
“Yes,(Volcom) consistently is the one of the best if not the best, but it is a close race between Volcom and Hurley. Hurley has come out with some new styles in the past season or two that has allowed it to consistently gain ground on Volcom.”
“Hurley is probably the best currently as far as skate AND surf gear. They have consistently the best board shorts and their hoodies/ long sleeve new releases are hot. Hurley is the way to go especially as far as surf gear is concerned. Volcom is a bit more alternative. Hurley also has the best designs in the past few seasons. ”
“The store (an independent surf shop) is not selling any Zumiez gear now due to a problem with the distributor”
Looks good for Volcom particularly with their strong customer - Pacific Sunwear. Hurley appears to be gaining ground and doing very well over all. Zumiez seems to be having some problems from the results of our survey. We will wrap up our survey on Volcom and the surf and skate retail environment later this week. Send us suggestions for more retail checks you would like to see on the site at email@example.com
Our Microsoft (MSFT) Zune channel check is going about as expected with all U.S. retailers reporting a November 14th launch date. No delays, or early shipment surprises there.In Europe the Zune is reported to us that retailers in Italy will have the Zune in stores December 15th. So one month later than in the U.S. Not sure if this has been published yet and we are pretty Microsoft has not announced this.
Australia and New Zealand retailers have no pre-order ability and no idea about launch dates which suggests to us that it is probably a Q1 2007 launch for the Zune in the South Pacific region. Still working on Asia proper and will re-update this channel check survey next week with more data.
On a rumor and according to GWN EB and Gamestop would allow a pre-order flurry on Tuesday 10/10/06. Not sure how much truth there was to this rumor The Channel Checkers asked the question. We called 20 EB, 20 Gamestop, and 10 Bestbuy stores for a total of 50 retailers that will carry the PS3.
Here’s what we found:
- Bestbuy was not taking pre-orders.
- 72% of EB/Gamestop stores would take our name, considering that each store could sell 8 pre-orders not bad.
- Average number of names on the list by the time we called; 7.3
The interesting question was “if we can’t put our name on the list or you are not taking pre-orders, would you recommend waiting for the PS3 or another platform”
25% said they would recommend the Wii and 6% recommended the Xbox 360, 69% said to wait for the PS3.
We wrote about the coming war of gaming platforms here.