I wonder sometimes how some companies decide on the best way to sell their products on the Interwebs. I sometimes wonder if companies even want to sell product. Let me tell you a little story.
I came across a product brief on one of our sister sites (Design News) that showcased a low power rotary position sensor. Regular readers know that I have an interest in motion control systems going back to my days at Philips Healthcare, where I designed portions of CT scanners. We used a variety of motion transducers such as linear potentiometers, rotary potentiometers, rotary encoders, resolvers (sine-cosine), and accelerometers, for various motion sensing tasks.
I have previously written about using a MEMS-type accelerometer as an inclination or tilt sensor. One of the other ways I had considered measuring tilt for that project was to use either a rotary potentiometer or an absolute rotary encoder mounted with its shaft horizontal. Then, I planned to suspend a weight from a short arm off the shaft (visualize a pendulum). If the bearings around the shaft were sufficiently low friction, I figured I could measure tilt accurately. I ended up using the accelerometer because of cost, component availability, and considerations regarding the likelihood of success with minimal design iterations.
In spite of the fact that I found a solution in that previous design (and in spite of the fact that I'm not even doing that design work anymore), I still keep my eyes open for motion transducers such as encoders. When I saw the Design News write-up, I took a closer look. The article gave the company's website and a shortened part number. Also listed were some general specs — enough to entice me. What I really needed to know, though, was the price. Sure, I wasn't really designing anything, just amusing myself with a product search. But any engineer who was doing a design would want the price at this point.
So off I went to the manufacturer's site, joyful with the thrill of the hunt. Hmm… On the landing page, there's a link for the data sheet. No pricing info there. Products… Applications… How about Resources? Maybe they consider pricing info to be a resource. Guess not. Let's see FAQs… I bet a frequently asked question is, “How much does this cost?” Apparently not. How about Terms & Conditions? Nope. Company Profile? Nothing there that will help. Hey — Sales & Support — surely that will lead me to distributors where I can quickly look up a price, even a ballpark price just for budgetary purposes. You'd think… but no.
If I cared to fill out a form, indicate my part numbers of interest and quantities needed, send it in, and wait for a return phone call, I might get an answer. There's not even a place on the form for me to enter my email address.
What the heck is wrong with the companies that think they'll get engineers to do this to get the answers they need? It's as if they don't want to sell parts. Let me know if you have had similar experinces.