General Instrument Corp. and CompUSA realized the value of
cohesive marketing last week, when a widely publicized, parking-lot demo of cable-modem
technologies in Encinitas, Calif., drew enough interest to sell out all of the cable
modems in stock.
Last Saturday, CompUSA ran wires out to its parking lot and
set up four high-speed-data computing stations equipped with GI's
'SURFboard' cable modems and connected to Daniels Cablevision's plant.
Luckily, the weather in Southern California cooperated,
too, unlike northern points of California, which were beleaguered by unusually heavy rain
'It was a typical winter day in Southern California --
we wore shorts and T-shirts,' said one GI executive who worked the event.
GI announced last month that it would work with CompUSA in
Encinitas and in Jacksonville and Miami, Fla., but the Encinitas demo is the first
marketing push so far. MediaOne initiated a 'soft launch' last month, and a
similar marketing slam is scheduled at a CompUSA located in Adelphia Communications
Corp.'s Miami system boundaries on Feb. 28, said Ed Zylka, director of marketing for
GI's San Diego-based satellite networks division.
'This event far exceeded my expectations,' Zylka
said. 'When I walked up, there were three or four rows of people lined up just to get
their questions answered.'
One shopper liked the demo so much that he scooted inside
to buy a personal computer loaded with the internal GI modem card.
All told, CompUSA sold its inventory of 25 SURFboard modems
in three hours, then it took prepaid orders for 16 more.
Daniels participated by running ads on Cable News Network
for several days prior to the event and by taking a three-quarter-page ad in the local
paper. Plus, on the day of the event, Daniels waived its $50 installation fee for its
'I-Net Express' service, 'so customers walked out the door with everything
that they needed for about $245,' said Bridgett Engel, a GI spokeswoman.
Joni Odum, president of Daniels Cablevision, said,
'The dramatic success of the launch confirms our strategy of offering customers a
retail option for high-speed Internet service.'
Odum added, 'It showed that computer users are willing
to invest in cable modems just as they are willing to invest in other hardware and
software components that increase the efficiency and capabilities of their
Justin McBride, general manager of the Encinitas CompUSA
store, was not available for comment on the project at press time.
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