Softletter’s GeoCon, int’l vendors get acquainted

Softletter’s GeoCon, int’l vendors get acquainted – software vendors from different nations hold conference with distributors

Jacqueline Emigh

****Softletter’s GeoCon: Int’l Vendors Get Acquainted 08/17/92 CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, 1992 AUG 17 (NB) — PC software vendors from Russia, Brazil, the UK, and about ten other counties are getting acquainted with US distributors, venture capitalists, and marketing realities at GeoCon/92, an international conference that kicked off this weekend.

Produced by Softletter, the three-day event consists of a product expo put together for the US audience, along with educational activities designed with the European and Latin American exhibitors in mind.

Jeffrey Tarter, Softletter’s editor and publisher, told Newsbytes that the expo is introducing US interests to fresh and innovative new software concepts from abroad. At the same time, he stressed, foreign-based vendors are unraveling the mysteries of the US software situation, through seminars and a field trip as well as informal chats with US attendees on the showroom floor.

Many of the exhibitors are seeking US partners. According to Tarter, these vendors’ products are often low in risk but high in potential — fully developed and yet different from those produced on US shores. “Generally, the products just need repackaging, and in some cases, English translation,” he noted.

An entrant in last year’s conference, the first GeoCon show ever, is now a successful draw in the Power-Up mail order catalog. Called myHouse, the “design your own home” application from RAIR of Hungary comes with advanced 3D CAD (computer-aided design) capabilities. US developers might not include features like this in a consumer package out of concern that their top-of-the-line offerings would be cannibalized, Tarter told Newsbytes.

Other important deals between US firms and foreign developers have been struck outside of GeoCon, he pointed out. Borland’s Quattro Pro is also based on a program developed in Hungary, while the Timeworks desktop publishing package hails from the UK, the editor and publisher stated.

The GeoCon exhibitors are uniformly interested in frank feedback on their products, together with honest insights into US advertising, packaging, distribution and business management procedures, he added. “It would be easier for us to do a textbook presentation,” he acknowledged. “But GeoCon is oriented toward how things actually work. In the US as in other nations, some of the commonly accepted rules are more important than others. And then, there are those `unwritten’ rules that can be extremely hard to find and decipher.”

Held Saturday, this year’s field trip took in three leading retail chains: Egghead, Software Etc, and Comp USA. The exhibitors were astounded by the numbers of packages on the shelves, a response that was especially profound among companies from Russia and the former Eastern Bloc countries, recounted Tarter. “Retail stores like this simply don’t exist in most other countries,” he commented.

In a conference session on Sunday, Tarter explained to exhibitors that large US retail chains receive the same kind of deep discounts that big distributors tend to get almost everywhere. “In this country, discounts are based on the volume sold, not the channel alone,” he elaborated. Later, Tarter told Newsbytes that European distributors typically perform wider services than US distributors, “republishing” programs for particular geographic markets.

In other workshops, exhibitors expressed dismay over the complexities of US sales and payroll taxes. But the participants were ecstatic to learn that US phone companies typically honor installation requests in three days or less.

Conference sessions presented so far range from “Packaging- Packaging-Packaging,” by Steve Gray, vice president of the DRK, Inc., ad agency, to “Distribution and Reseller Deals,” By Colleen Terry, director of sales and marketing for Clear Software, to “Negotiating Licensing and Royalty-Based Deals,” by Mary Dixon, account manager at Houghton-Miflin and Michael Krieger, attorney.

Other countries with companies at the show include Hungary, France, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Scotland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.

(Jacqueline Emigh/19920817; Press and Public Contact: Jeffrey Tarter, Soft-Letter, tel 617-924-3944)

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