Friday, 13 June 2008

A more PC Singapore

PC Show 2008Minor bit of excitement has made its way around on the calender; the 18th annual Singapore PC Show, one of the 3 significant shows in the year (others are the IT Show and SITEX). It's at the downtown Suntec convention centre which means being herded like milk cows around the insufficient escalators up to the main exhibition floors (4 and 6). Yesterday, they had blocked off one of the 4->6 escalators and with a 50yard queue for the remaining one, it was faster to go down to 3 and then back up to 4, then 6. It's a badly designed building run by fools. The Expo out at Changi airport is much better for space and access.

The Show runs Thursday through Sunday, noon until 9pm daily and about 15% of the Singapore population, men, women, children and geeks will attend. I took the opportunity to go early on Thursday which was tolerable being a lone, able-bodied male. Why families with push-chairs and children attend is beyond me. There was one wheelchair user who struck me as particularly brave - for one thing he's low down; you can't see him (he needs a pole and a flag) and anything that wide simple makes no progress. His tactic was to motor forward, very very slowly and persistently but it can't be easy or fun.

The reason the show is so popular is because Singaporeans love a bargain, and we are officially in the middle of the GSS, the Great Singapore Sale which
runs for about 2 months, from mid-May. I haven't bothered to mention it (and didn't even notice it last year) because it isn't what you think. Sure there are banners and window dressing but actually, prices are not much different. Think if it as a retail marketing exercise, not a price promotion. Example: Courts (big electrical retailer like Currys or Comet) has yellow "Mega Sale" stickers on everything, yet closer inspection shows they list the price and in small lettering the original price, if different. Quick review of the kitchen section shows maybe 1 in 10 items at reduced price.

The PC show is similar. Retailers use it to clear stock and offer targeted discounts to generate buzz. For small shops, you could have negotiated the 10% discount. For larger stores, careful shopping around would yield similar reductions in many cases.

This year's show seems smaller, or more precisely, there seems to be more space - gaps between stands. Asking around, they have culled some of the smaller, less reputable retailers and focused on the big brand names. That's a bit of a shame as some of the little guys are fun. The iRobot vacuum cleaner stand is there, as is the Mini Sun power saver "plug in the box and reduce your electricity bills". Sounds like snake oil but it does work (long story which I might relate sometime).

Unusually, the Apple retailer is actually knocking some money off this year (a first) by throwing in a RAM upgrade. I'm in the middle of checking my bank account balance as that's a deal I can't match even with an old staff discount I could use. So I face the prospect of going back today (Fri) with a luggage trolley to tote away a huge box or two.

The big box retailers, HP, Brother, etc, will sell PCs and printers with a free, crappy plastic trolley to get the goods home. You see people streaming away from the show with them, struggling down escalators and onto the MRT. Which raises an interesting security question. Normally, people with large luggage are stopped at stations for a security check (terrorism and all that) but for the next 3 days, you could tote 25kgs of whatever you want onto a train with nary a raised eyebrow.