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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Pulse Of Consumer Electronics: Newspapers

Say what you want about newspapers dying, they are still an accurate indicator of consumer electronics trends.

I've read newspapers daily since I was a kid (except for a few years when I was on the road) and I've noticed that you can pretty much spot the hot electronics item just by watching the number of dedicated product adverts and their placement in the local rag. Here's what I've noticed through the years:

Stereo equipment - Big in the 70's and 80's, until it wasn't. Ironically, the average student or consumer had a far better sounding system back then than he has now. The product was really quality audio, not stereo equipment. Quality audio is a particularly desired attribute today and that makes stereo equipment no longer a major factor in consumer electronics.

Computers - You couldn't turn a page in a newspaper in the late 80's and 90's without seeing an advert for everything from known consumer brands to small mom & pop shops building their own computers at prices you could afford (service was another matter, unfortunately). These home-brew commercial units were replaced in the 90's with national brands like Apple and Dell being sold by the local dealerships. You still see the occasional ad in the Saturday paper, but for the most part, the dedicated computer stores have gone away.

Cordless phones - Not cell phones, the ones you use in your house. In the 90's, if the ad wasn't about a computer, it was about a cordless phone. Talk anywhere in your house without being tethered to a cable. What a concept!

Cell phones - In the late 90's and early 2000's, ads for cell phones were everywhere from both tiny startups to large corporations. Every corner had a store selling cell phones (with a couple more down the block) and they all wanted you to know they had just the one for you.

Big screen TV's - Not the LCD/plasmas that we see today, but the first screens past 36 inches. It was new, it was great for sports, it was big. You needed one.

Digital cameras - The most up-to-date in electronic gadgetry, digital cameras are the latest consumer electronic item to catch the buying public's imagination. Every day, local and national stores run ads in all sections of the newspapers for cameras and accessories of all types and at all price ranges. Take pictures of your life, put them on your blog and website, share them with friends, all in higher and higher quality for fewer and fewer $$$.

I believe that the next trend will be small HD movie cameras like Flip Mino, but who knows? I do know that whatever the trend, it'll be here any moment since the digital camera craze is getting a bit long in the tooth. Until then, I need to upgrade my SLR camera.

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