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Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick
Old 03-02-2006, 09:04 AM   #1
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Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick

Sheesh! $29.95 or $0.36 for the same part; you decide.

Somebody gave me a nonworking laptop saying a burning smell came from the power connector. I haven't dug deep into a laptop before, but the price was right. I found disassembly instructions on the internet, and to get to the power jack I had to take every piece apart so I could get the mainboard out. My laptop is now a jumble of parts that don't much resemble a laptop at all. My first attempt at a solder fix didn't work because the connector is actually broken in two, and the electricity is arcing over the gap and causing all sorts of sparks and smoke, neither of which is very good for mobile computing.

I was delighted to find a site that listed the power jacks by model number, but they wanted $29.95 for my jack!!! (We're talking about a 14mm x 9mm x 9mm bit of metal and plastic.) I know the component isn't near that much, so I decide to dig deeper into the internet. I find another site or two that look almost identical to the first site and want the same price but have different domain names. I wonder if it's the same company with multiple fronts or if the racket has attracted copycatters who don't mind copying the site layout and text, too.

I finally found a nice catalog of components at mouser.com (I had heard of them before but forgot about them) and looked through the DC jacks which had photos and manufacturer data sheets complete with measurements. I found an exact match for $0.36 each with volume discounts for bigger lots. I could've bought 100 for $24...maybe I should go into the reseller business...nahhhh, I have a conscience. I bought 3 (at that price, might as well have spares) and paid $6 shipping. (Hey, gotta make it worth their while to pick and pack the parts, I suppose.)

(Edited for spelling. Disassebly?)
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick
Old 03-02-2006, 11:35 AM   #2
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick

I regularly find 3-5 sites that have a "similar appearance" with similar products and pricing...if not exact.

I'm pretty sure they're multiple storefronts. Makes sense, its cheap to do and a lot of people 'shop around' and may not come back to your one-sy site.

One of the first startups I did sold printer sharing devices...this was back when laser printers cost 5000-6000 and up and your only other choice was a $300+ dot matrix printer. We pitched "laser printing for everyone at a dot matrix price" by putting all the PC parallel or serial ports through a switch box with a processor and a big bunch of buffer memory.

We figured we'd have customers at a variety of price points. So we set up two shell companies with post office boxes in different places, and had the company that did our sheet metal make up three different boxes (and we ended up buying the sheet metal company and I had to 'manage' that sub business for a year...manufacturing sucks). Our main company sold the product at $1200-1500+ with an impressive and imposing name, included some cheap cables, a nice color manual and a really pretty painted box. The next step down had a somewhat less impressive name, no cables, a thin black and white manual, and an 'industrial' looking but attractive box. And less flashing lights. For $899. The bottom of the ladder was one with a cheesy sounding name, no cables, manual on floppy disk, and a cheap unpainted metal box. No lights. $599. We advertised them through different channels...the expensive one was sold by resellers along with the printers and they liked it as it tripled and quadrupled their printer sales. The cheap one we sold out of the back of Byte magazine. The middle one we ended up OEMing to a bunch of printer companies and eventually made it into an addin card for a number of the larger lasers.

Every one of them had the same board inside, same firmware.

I could have a printer manufacturer, a printer reseller, a 3rd party reseller, and my own low end direct sales selling the same product to the same customer and none of them even had a clue...

What cracked me up was when a magazine or other outfit would review several of the products and give them different scores or prefer one over the other... :

In todays world, I'd have had a web page and 'address' in every state to sell the low end and middle models, so everyone would feel good about buying from a "local company". Probably would have had two or three per state...one to pitch to PC users, one for mac and one for other stuff like linux. Buying a printer share from a local company that caters to the mac?

Delicious.
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick
Old 03-02-2006, 02:25 PM   #3
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick

I am way, way too practical to be in marketing. That never would have occurred to me, but I'm going to keep the idea in mind. Thanks!
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick
Old 03-02-2006, 02:26 PM   #4
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick

You mean you're a reasonable and honest person. Not such a bad thing...
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick
Old 03-02-2006, 03:10 PM   #5
 
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Re: Laptop Power Jack -or- Get Rich Quick

Great story, CFB.
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