Friday, January 06, 2012

Too Many Gadgets, Too Little Time

Will 2012 be more volatile than 2011? (take insta-poll). Encouraging economic signs

Do we have gadget fatigue?

According to a new study from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the nonprofit product testing and certification organization, 48 percent of consumers of 1,200 surveyed consumers—ALMOST HALF—believe high-tech companies bring new products to market faster than people need them. Is the pace of innovation too fast for consumers? Are companies rushing new product out the door just to keep up with their competitors (versus consumer desires). The report found the at U.S. manufacturers value “speed to market” more than any other criteria. In a New York Times interview, UL’s chief strategy officer Sara Greenstein quipped that “innovation is too fast only if corners are cut.”

Apple sold about 40 million iPads in 2011—no surprise there despite being the most expensive offering on the market, by far. But, non-tech manufacturers such as Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook) managed to sell 30 million e-book readers in 2011. That’s a 108 percent increase over 2010, according to I.H.S. iSuppli. E-book readers have far fewer features than pure tablets, but analysts say the line is blurring between e-books and tablets. Forrester Research says Amazon (Kindle Fire) and Nook Tablet managed 7 million sales combined in Q4 of 2011.

Our Take: Sales of the hybrids represents a low-cost interim step that could be chalked up to budget-conscious Holiday shoppers as much as to true consumer demand. If you’re designing creative for the on-the-go consumer, focus on pure tablets and mobile devices. Also make sure you don’t confuse “adoption rates” from regular usage rates. For instance, British consulting firm Arieso found that the heaviest one-percent of mobile users account for 50 percent of the world’s traffic and the heaviest 10-percent of users account for 90 percent. Arieso also found that two thirds (64%) of “extreme” users were using a laptop, whereas only one-third were using a smartphone and 3 percent had an iPad.

Why taking a break from our electronic devices is healthy and productive

New York Times columnist Nick Bilton offers good food for thought in his latest rant about technology addiction.

“Our brains often need to become inattentive to figure out complex issues,” according to Jonah Lehrer, a neuroscientist and author of new book “Imagine How Creativity Works. University of California psychology prof, Jonathan Schooler, said daydreaming and boredom seem to be a source for incubation and creative discovery in the brain and are part of the creative incubation process.”

Will 2012 be more volatile than 2011?

Take our InstaPoll and see how your peers feel.

Encouraging signs on the economic front
• Companies added 325,000 workers last month, the highest monthly tally in more than 10 years according to ADP
• The Labor Department said the economy has added 2.4 million jobs since hitting its low point in February 2010
• Weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 372,000—11 percent lower than
this time a year ago the Labor Department said
• Manufacturing companies have added—not cut—jobs for two consecutive years. Before last year, manufacturing haven’t added jobs since 1997 the Department said.
• The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in November rose 7 percent, to
the highest level in 18 months according to the National Association of Realtors.
• Also 12/21 a Thomson Reuters University of Michigan survey of overall consumer sentiments
showed a substantial jump to 69.9 in December from 64.1 (a 9% gain) and The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index rose to 118 points—it’s seventh consecutive monthly gain.

As Isaac M posted last week on our blog: “I'm a small business owner, running a technology consultancy for schools. Over the past year, my numbers have become significantly better, private and public schools are doing a lot of buying, and America's getting back up on its feet from where I see it!”

Let’s be smart—not blindly optimistic--in 2012 and hope Issac is right.


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