The internet is full of conditional phantom buys: “I’ll buy if they’d make one for less than $300”, “I’m getting it when it hits version 2”, “Until they add this feature, I can’t get it”. At the surface, all these conditions sound very reasonable. Or well, often they’re not all that reasonable, even arbitrary, but at least they represent a personal statement of value. Until this condition is met, I won’t part with my money.

The problem for anyone driving their decisions off conditional phantom buys is of course that these statements are as fickle as they are cheap. It costs nothing to claim to have ready cash if you can get a company to follow your pet goat. It doesn’t actually mean you’ll have to get money out of pocket when it happens.

The deceiving part of these birds in the bush is that the proposition is proposed as a one-to-one barter. You give me this one thing and you’ll be rewarded with all the gold you can carry from everyone who’s just like me!

Except that most such propositions are just window shopping that gloss over all the other implicit barriers to purchase that’ll surface when the pet goat has been fed.

So take the ultimatum-based shopper’s mirage with a grain of salt. It can undoubtedly contain pointers of interest, but don’t go projecting revenue growth off them.