Category Archives: consumer

The Year of Reading Differently

Edward Stourton on the travails of reading in the digital age.

I wish I got more time to read.


xkcd: Hotels

I don’t quite get the Tragedy of the Commons analogy, but it’s funny nevertheless.    For more xkcd, the website is here.


Japanese Desolation

An elegy to Kiyosato, which was a resort town that came into prominence in the heydays of the 1980s.  Today, the crowds have gone, the stores have shuttered and everything gently and oh so slowly rusts or rots or crumbles away.

Today, Kiyosato stands as a cautionary tale of the consumerist excess that often accompanies a bubble.  Will some consumerist havens in the US and Europe look like this in two decades?

Trash your smartphone

From David Sirota at Salon.  I concur with his assessment.  Most of us don’t need smartphones.  And for most people, smartphones tend to reduce rather than increase productivity.

Discount Smart Phones …

The market for smart phones is definitely in a transitional phase,” Lars-Christian Weisswange, a vice president at Huawei’s Western European division, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The company is betting that consumers will aim for affordable rather than luxury-brand smart phones.

I think Huawei may be onto something.  They’re staking money on the commodity life cycle.  According to this cycle the commodity moves from luxury good status to mass market to necessity through demand factors and scale effects on the supply side.  Other commodities that have succumbed to this cycle include PCs, air travel and (unsmart) mobile phones.

More from the original article, which focuses on cheap smart phones as game-changers in the African market.

Tablet computers: Reality dawns

The prediction at the Babbage blog at the Economist is that HP has made a great move in getting out of the tablet business.  They can now focus on core competencies, rather than waste resources trying to wrest market share from a dominant Apple.

Apple’s share of the tablet market is over 61% and growing, while all the Android tablets together make up barely 30% and are being squeezed … Windows tablets account for 4.6% and Research in Motion’s 3.3%.

Fighting Apple would always be a losing proposition since no competitor could hope to match the iPad in the quality of the consumer experience.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab is not bad, but even that feels derivative.  HP’s business plan was even more flawed in that they originally matched the iPad price-wise.

poor\; product + same\; price = no\; contest

Since the news caused HP shares to fall precipitously, naturally this presents a great buy opportunity.  HP is getting rid of a product line that is dragging it down.  It will emerge leaner.

The article also has a discussion of the relative merits of the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.  I did not know that the Nook has a 20% market share in the e-reader market.

A Useful Primer on Buying HD TVs

From the Babbage blog at The Economist.