Scarcity also means opportunity. Sites that are helping consumers track the elusive Wii game console are taking different tacks to making money, and some, if not all, are in it for the long haul. For example, iTrackr.com plans a major upgrade to its site after the holiday season, says founder John Rizzo.
Rizzo hopes to make iTrackr that missing online link between consumers and brick-and-mortar stores. The site's nine employees have built software "spiders" that crawl the sites of retailers, such as Target and Gamespot, checking inventory for Wiis and other products. "We're basically a search engine," he says.
Once through the busy holiday season, the site will add tools to enable consumers to set up their own groups for sharing info—and to do it all from mobile phones as well. Like so many others, the site hopes to build traffic to eventually make money from advertising. Rizzo figures it can be lucrative, as ads can target consumers who've already said what they're shopping for. Advertisers have lost interest in shotgun advertising, he says: "We offer the sniper approach."
So far, Rizzo has funded the site from family and friends, but he hopes to raise his first venture capital next year. And while Wiis have attracted hordes of traffic, the site already covers iPhones, PlayStations, and other coveted goods that often sell out at stores—and it will add others when opportunities arise. Scarcity, it seems, never goes away. As Beanie Babies and Tamagotchi pets can tell you, it just moves to other products.