Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Smartphones – no buyers left? In February, the lack of 'innovation in the Samsung Galaxy S5' revealed to a Forbes writer that this points to saturation of the smartphone market. What is 'saturation'? Turns out it doesn’t mean that everyone has bought a smartphone, just that the era of double-digit growth rates may have ended. (Now we know that bank savings interest rates must be 'saturated.') Or not, a few months later, sales of the S5 are good and globally helping Samsung 'regain momentum'. Did they ever lose market share? Only IDC knows for sure.
Meanwhile, back in the USA – who cares about the non-smartphone owner? Says Nielsen, 51% of those over 55 own smartphones. So no wonder Forbes thinks the market is saturated -- no point in thinking about the 49% over age 55 who don’t have one yet – and therefore, why should vendors display feature phones? And so they’re not. Verizon isn’t thinking about them -- check out that home page. Nor is AT&T or Sprint. In fact, a 'cell phone with plan' is a smartphone, according to Sprint. And the cell phone 'buying guide' is all about smartphone features. Guess there is an effort in stores to phase out the old feature phone market and migrate the 49% to a smart phone. Doesn’t this remind you of the end of paper statements, even though seniors who need them might not be online?
Saturation is a euphemism for slowing growth – see digital cameras. What happens to a category in decline when the maker becomes desperate? The actual point and shoot camera (the one with lens attachments and film) is pretty much gone. But now -- going, going, soon gone is the digital camera market, with global shipments halved since 2010. That market was stolen by smartphones (and to a lesser degree, tablets, for those who don’t care about subtlety when pointing and shooting). So enter the smart, socializing camera – for a mere $1000 you can use its touch screen to e-mail those pics straight to Facebook, uh, yay? Or attach the camera to the front of any smartphone for shooting and sharing. One wonders about the age of Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal, who races around snapping photos with her phone, popping them onto Instagram and then eagerly counting the 'Likes.'
Pity the advertisers – they know not what they must do. When tech markets are, uh, saturated (that is growth is slowing) and marketers of ads become anxious, you get today’s Facebook (and its Big Brother-ish big brother, Google). They are desperate to know about you – all the time, everywhere, and best of all, whether you tell them or not. They want to convince those pesky marketing ad buyers that spending money with Facebook will influence consumer behavior. So how better to prove this, then by KNOWING more of your behavior – which some out there may be willing to tell them. So as of this week, when you post onto Facebook on your phone, click on that face on the bottom of the screen -- you can now advise prospective advertising firms how you are Feeling, what you are Watching, Reading, Listening To, Drinking, Eating, Playing or Traveling To. (And if you don’t tell Facebook directly, it will 'listen' and try to figure it out.) Picking 'Feeling,' are you happy, sad, excited, tired, great, wonderful, annoyed, blessed, or meh (meh?), sick, angry, determined, irritated, bored….. okay, now that describes me with this list. More accurately, creeped out, sickened, appalled and nauseated, but sadly, those were not choices offered. When asked, that's What's on my mind.