The Unusual Suspects

DSCF5172We all remember Claud Rains’ line from ” Casablanca “….” Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects…”.

It can be a bit like that when the new cameras or other photographic gear is shown to the public. This is done by retailers and wholesalers in combination and can be at the shops themselves or at hospitality premises. Wherever the beanfest is held, it attracts the usual suspects. Actually there are several interchangeable sets of suspects in this town and it is interesting to see the combinations of attendees that can be produced.

For the amateur/enthusiast market the presentations tend to be simpler technical delivery but much more given to videos and whizz bang. For the professionals there are more statistics and an emphasis on the speed of the equipment – I guess they all want to do their jobs faster for cheaper.

The audiences can come driven by curiosity, equipment lust, or desire for a free beer and a plate of sushi. I cannot believe that they come unknowing, as every product that is released has had weeks of internet rumour, revelation, and retail jostling before it actually appears at a product launch. I am sometimes surprised that the equipment geeks have been able to sustain their interest long enough to come along to see the real thing.

Mind you, sometimes the real thing is pretty unreal. When they send carnival barkers and showgirls in spangly tights out to beat the drum and toot the trumpet and there are only two examples of the camera in the country…running on trial software and possibly batteries cello-taped together in the presenter’s pocket…you are left wondering whether the thing is actually going to look like the sample. Sometimes you wonder whether there will ever be anything but the sample. I am always terribly suspicious when they tell me not to shoot any shots or do any playback or open the battery compartment door. Is there a hamster in a wheel inside it? Or nothing at all…?

I noted as well the difference in the audience’s ability to maintain attention and in the quality of their questions after the lecture. The amateurs ask questions that they know the answer to beforehand so that they can be seen to be clever. The pros ask a question they want to know the answer to. They aren’t as concerned with being clever as getting paid.

There is at least one common theme with the two classes of listener. They all want a special bargain price and frequently they want it on something that isn’t made yet. The goods may be 2 months away from hitting the shore and already they want a discount based on and internet advertisement from somewhere on the Kola Peninsula. When I hear this I delight in my new status as a retired man…albeit one who is there to see the show for the shop…because I am free to guffaw instead of simper.

Well, the nights are enjoyable for all this, and we do get to handle the new stuff. It has sold me on several products and turned me off others. I have learned to translate Rep-speak when it comes to delivery times and I have had the mean and cynical fun of watching the local wholesale firms eat large plates of crow when their suppliers have decided to delay things. How many sales are ever generated by them is a mystery but there must be some as the product launches continue apace.






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