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10-03-2010, 07:37 AM   #1
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Did you use a Texas Instruments calculator in school?

(this is on topic, I promise)

I did too. I got my first one my sophomore year in high school. It took a while to learn but that what the teachers wanted us to buy. Sure, we were free to buy other brands but they only had the directions for how to work with the TI brand ones.

I didn't know why this was the case around the country until my time at the University. I was a mathematics major. I spent my 4 (okay, 5) years working my butt off and I did pretty well. During the semester before student teaching, we had a mixed class of "practice" student teaching and seminar classes.

During one of these seminar days, TI came to the class to give us a 4 hour activity filled day about how we can use the TI calculators to get the class more engaged and explore mathematical concepts using the visuals on the calculator. They gave all of us (100 or so) free TI-84 platinum calculators (probably $130 value or so). Thats $13,000 worth of equipment they gave us for free. And they gave us a coupon so that when we got our first teaching job, we can get another expensive item free.

Why? (and what does this have to do with Pentax?)

Because we were locked into the brand. The teachers had the TI calculators and now we can tell our students to get them. We know how to use them well after the TI seminar. We got free stuff from them when we started teaching that makes using them easier. Why choose another brand?

And the cycle continues.

Anyway, Pentax needs to take something from this business model. Get to the teachers. Give them the cameras and lenses. Show them how to use them/why they are the best. Get the teachers to require the students to get a pentax because thats the camera he knows and uses. Create a cycle of buying in the form of TI.

I know they are a small company, but TI had to start somewhere too. Start at a couple universities. Maybe just one. This isn't a short term project, its is a very long terms one.

The IRsimple concept could work really great here. Teachers tells the students to take a picture, students beam it up to the teachers camera where he can review it/grade it. Maybe make a "student edition" camera, how software developers like MS and Adobe make a student editions. Get the teacher to recommend Pentax and sell them cheaper to students.

I don't have it all figured out, but I'm not a marketing guy. I just know TI has it figured out and no one else in the calculator racket is going to get in there. But remember, they had to start somewhere just like Pentax will need to.

TL;DR: TI gets to the teachers who then make the students buy TI brand. Pentax should too.

10-03-2010, 08:19 AM   #2
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You do realize TI was huge way before they started doing anything like this, right? They did it because they could afford to. You don't really think they make their money selling calculators, as opposed to their massive defense contracts (among other things)?
10-03-2010, 08:47 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
You do realize TI was huge way before they started doing anything like this, right? They did it because they could afford to. You don't really think they make their money selling calculators, as opposed to their massive defense contracts (among other things)?
Yes, TI's calculators only provide 5% of the company's $10.5 billion in annual revenue. Still, TI has 93% of the U.S graphing calculator market bringing in $31.5 million/yr. Thats no small pocket change. I'm only saying that the marketing strategy has merit and that no imaging company that I know of has tried it; Not only for the income, but also for the long term market growth that the strategy has shown it can hold.
10-03-2010, 09:18 AM   #4
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This is a solid marketing practice when there is a steep learning curve which is different between substitutable products. I've used TI graphing calculators and one from another brand; I purchased the other brand because it was substantially less expensive and had all the tools I needed, but learning how to use it was too much of a pain so I went back to TI. Had I started with that other brand--I forget which one--I probably would have passed on TI calculators were they cheaper. That's a steep learning curve between products.

But a photography teacher should be able to take any camera with PASM modes and, within a minute or two, know how to use those modes. If students bring their own cameras, even a mediocre teacher should be able to tell everyone in the class how to adjust shutter and aperture, whether they have a Canon 1D Mark X or a Spotmatic. My first photography class used K1000 cameras, but what I learned there has nothing to do with why I now invest in Pentax equipment. That's a shallow learning curve.

On the other hand, there is brand loyalty. A consumer becomes familiar with a brand's products and the "genes" of its design, and associates that familiarity with the next product as superiority over other products. I probably prefer the taste of Coke over Pepsi because, as a child, my parents purchased Coke; really, one isn't better than the other, but when I want a cola I want the taste that I'm familiar with, so I buy Coke. That's brand loyalty, even though I will in no way evangelize that product.

To foster brand loyalty, a company needs to provide new consumers with the product, which means free or reduced-fee. Those energy drink promoters who walk around cities handing out free samples? That's an attempt to do this. Flooding classrooms throughout a market with Pentax equipment? That would do the same thing, but at a substantially higher cost to the company.

Now, if I were Pentax, and my company were growing to the point where I might be considering investing in additional manufacturing capacity, this would be something to think about. Perhaps there are enough schools that would be willing to purchase cameras at cost, which would allow the company to increase its efficiencies of scale for products sold at retail, which would also provide a marketing bump. A way to do this might be to coordinate with a university bookstore: students purchase their own cameras, where they can bring any camera they want to class but the bookstore sells one brand at a steep discount. A substantial number of students would purchase the cheapest option available, a new product probably comparable in price to used products at market price, and they would become familiar with the Pentax way of designing things--perhaps even buying into the system.

But that model doesn't make sense unless the company is trying to maintain excess manufacturing capacity. (Or if there are sufficient tax benefits to provide cut-cost products to students, which might actually be an interesting exercise for a tax attorney to figure out how to do.) Without that, cameras are just too expensive; Pentax isn't giving away cameras to successful photographers, which is probably a better place to start than with the classroom.

10-03-2010, 01:11 PM   #5
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Actually, from what I understand, many photography students learn with a Pentax K1000. It's the photography school camera of choice.

On the flipside, almost no photography schools offer DSLRs (for more than one reason... it's expensive and does not really help you learn how to take a photo like an old manual camera does).

What would be good would be for Pentax to get their DSLRs in movies and tv shows... I notice Nikon does this often, and product placements can bring a lot of "credibility" to a brand fom the consumer's POV.
10-03-2010, 01:13 PM   #6
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I used TI sci. calc. in university. You should really have made that a poll
10-03-2010, 01:21 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jodokast96 Quote
You do realize TI was huge way before they started doing anything like this, right? They did it because they could afford to. You don't really think they make their money selling calculators, as opposed to their massive defense contracts (among other things)?
With a family background that includes both TI and the Military, you can't imagine how many of those Giant Contracts were awarded based on those that had used those little calculators........Generals and High Officers that have sway were always familiar with TI....and it was a definite advantage, I guarantee.
Regards!
10-03-2010, 01:23 PM   #8
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I never imagined that I'd be on this forum talking about Reverse Polish Notation. I imagine that many on this forum got their start with a K1000 (as PaperBag846 and others have mentioned) or Spotmatic and thus have a strong affinity to the brand that ignited their photographic passion. The K-x is that camera for the next generation of photographers, and a lot of photo schools still use film cameras to start at least. Pentax's challenge is to give young photographers that advance in their skills and needs enough of a reason to stay with the brand. I believe that they are getting there with the K-5 and 645D. A ways to go, but a good start nonetheless...

10-03-2010, 01:48 PM   #9
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When I was in school, calculators hadn't even been invented! But I was an early adopter when they were ...became something of a calculator geek!
10-03-2010, 01:57 PM   #10
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Use an TI...a TI calculator? BLASPHEMY to a science or math major!! It is and will be HP with it's far more logical RPN all the way forever!! hehehehe...

But seriously, while your stories is interesting for sure, think back to the late 70s through mid to late 80s when Apple tried essentially the same thing by sponsoring computer labs in schools. Problem was a simple one...once those students left school and entered the bsuiness world it was all MS based hardware well over 90%, few businesses invested in the Apple platform because MS and Wordperfect had the desktop market pretty much to themselves. So Apple never saw any real return for the cost.

Mind it was not all free but the prices charged were very, very attractive. Still they lost in the PC world because they did not extend the idea into the business world where the MS/IBM based devices won the day for a couple decades, and even today not many businesses are Apple only environments. I actually figured by now were would see OS agnostic software everywhere but it's apparently not the nature of the beast.
10-03-2010, 05:25 PM   #11
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TI, Pffft. Yeah, HP and RPN all the way!!!!
10-03-2010, 05:32 PM   #12
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School kids in Singapore use... Casio.
10-03-2010, 05:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arpe Quote
TI, Pffft. Yeah, HP and RPN all the way!!!!
Amen, Arpe! I *still* use my HP-41CX.
10-03-2010, 05:46 PM   #14
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I was required to use a TI-30XIIS (scientific, not graphing) calculator and a TI financial calculator that I can't recall the name of. We weren't allowed to use graphing calculators in any science, math, physics or engineering course in any year, and the financial calculator was only allowed in courses taught by the business faculty. The engineering faculty required students to use reference tables and memorize all necessary formulae for the finance course they taught.

I learned on a K1000 in school and received one years later as a gift. Had I been given something other than a Pentax I likely would have gone digital with that brand if the lenses were compatible.
10-03-2010, 05:50 PM   #15
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Yep, only HP calculators for me. RPN all the way.
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