Friday, November 24, 2006

Who wants an Xbox 360 for $100?

As many of you probably know (the event was highly publicized), yesterday, that is, Thanksgiving Day, at exactly 11:00 am PST, sold 1,000 Xbox 360s for $100 each.

Needless to say, when I heard about this I jumped at the opportunity, and spent several hours on Wednesday and Thursday preparing myself mentally and physically, and uhh ... computerifically.

And then ... well, let me give a sort of a timeline:

10:00 am PST: Sit down at the computer, make sure that RoboForm is configured properly with my password - I'm not taking any chances.
10:20: Make sure my computer's clock is accurate to atomic time.
10:30: Begin stretching my index finger by repeatedly pressing F5 on the keyboard.
10:40: Re-login to Amazon, just in case.
10:45: Go to the page with the deal and begin refreshing repeatedly. So far, so good, but then all of a sudden ...
10:55:30: The Amazon server finally crashes from anticipation, one can only suppose. The page doesn't load. I try everything, different browsers, different computers. Nothing, until finally...
10:59:50: The page miraculously loads, 10 seconds before 11:00. The Xbox isn't there - the page is being updated! I quickly hit refresh again but it doesn't load until ...
11:01:45: Ouch. All gone.

I came really close though - if that first refresh loaded 5-10 seconds later I would've had it for sure...

At first I was pretty pissed... I mean, I came ridiculously close to being eligible for a crazy bargain, but missed it by 10 seconds because of a server crash. But the more I thought about it the stupider the whole deal looked. Observe:

Item: Amazon held a "contest" between 4 deals, of which the Xbox 360 deal had a 90% vote from the start.
Item: The $100 (reg. $300) deal is so low that even people who don't really want an Xbox 360 would still try to get it.
Item: The deal was broadcast on national television and displayed all over the Internet.
Item: I estimate that at least 500,000 people would try to get that Xbox.
Item: The Amazon servers are a bit laggy even on good days. No way can they support that sort of traffic.
Item: Microsoft claims to reduce the price of the Xbox 360 "on a yearly basis". The holiday season is coming up... *wink wink*
Item: Last I checked, only two people on the Amazon discussion boards claimed they won the deal. Now, I realize many customers aren't active on the boards, but 2/1000?

From this, one can draw one of four conclusions:
1) Amazon offered the deal out of the goodness of their hearts (yeah, right).
2) Amazon is trying to attract publicity (and is going about it the wrong way).
3) Amazon knows the Xbox 360s will soon drop in value, and is trying to sell off as many as they can under the pretense of being generous, while attracting a ton of media attention. This is a very good possibilities, but I think it's really...
4) The whole deal was a sham to get attention. Either Amazon only sold 10 Xboxes or they didn't sell any, and planted people on the discussion boards to give "proof" that the deal was real. Hey, it all adds up. Call me a conspiracy nut, but this is what I'm going with.

Now, this doesn't mean I won't use Amazon anymore. Hey, I love Amazon. One thing about the Tech industry, and in fact the business world in general, is that all companies are evil. Some are just more evil than others... ;)

No comments: