Despite the panic created by potential Y2K-related computer problems in the commercial sector, PC home users are not rushing into stores to purchase or inquire about Y2K fix-ups, according to an analyst and retailers.
Ann Stephens, president of PC Data, Reston, Va., said Y2K software programs designed to help users correct the PC bios and alert users to calendar-dependent files have tallied only $3.5 million in sales during the first quarter.
That figure, said Stephens, "doesn't seem like a whole lot. It could be one of two things: Either people are waiting until after the first of the year, because you tend to see anti-virus programs go up right in the middle of a virus scare, or it could be that people are confident there won't be a problem."
Retailers reported that most customers are looking for survival supplies when it comes to making millennial preparations. "The impact of Y2K is going to be in batteries, flashlights and radios," said Rick Borinstein, Radio-Shack's senior VP of merchandising. "We're really not expecting an inundation of computer users."
On a merchandising level, retailers said they are addressing the issue with end-caps on Y2K consumer-oriented utility packages from vendors including Greenwich Mean Time, Intelliquis and Symantec. But despite this effort sales remain lackluster.
"I'm shocked and amazed by my Y2K sales," said Dennis Dubrow, software buyer for Datavision, N.Y., "which are not as good as I thought they would be. I move from five to 10 pieces a month."
Ted Uziel, Nationwide's product manager for software and peripherals, added, "I don't think the general consumer is taking it all that seriously. We're moving some software but not a tremendous amount. As far as I'm seeing, the customers aren't asking about it. Either everyone's going to wake up in the fourth quarter, or a lot of users are going to have problems."
Dave Kuckenbecker, manager of sales engineering for the software firm Greenwich Mean Time, said the consumers' trust may be misplaced.
Kuckenbecker's company has Y2K-solution software on the market, and he believes that any calendar-dependent application is vulnerable.
"All the PCs are going to turn on, that will never be an issue unless there's some other problem," he explained. "But if you are tracking your retirement or your investments you'll have a problem." Any spreadsheet and database files should be checked for Y2K readiness, but "if you're just doing word processing or playing games or going on the Internet, it may not be a problem."
Y2K-Related Software Sales -- March 1999
Norton 2000 (Symantec)
2000 Toolbox (Network Associates)
Check 2000 (Greenwich Mean Time)
Check 2000 Deluxe (Greenwich Mean Time)
Source: PC Data, Reston, Va. ©TWICE 1999