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What’s Hot in Retail for 2013?
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Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/15/2013 10:09:15 AM
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..

Noreen writes


I was also sorry to see netbooks fade away


 

So-called "netbooks" are/were actually somewhat stripped-down mini-laptops.  They don't/didn't have all the performance of most large laptops, but I've found my netbook adequate for all my needs — Internet, Email, Word, graphics editing, Excel, Powerpoint, general writing, editing, and research.

Like most, mine came with just 1 GB of RAM, but I upgraded it to 2 GB — can't do that with tablets, as far as I know.  Tablets also seem to come with only about 8 to 32 GB onboard storage — my current netbook came with 160 GB, and new one has 320 GB. Also 3 full USB ports — you're lucky to get one with a tablet, and only a mini-port if that.  And, of course a workable keyboard and mouse are a necessity for me.

The small size, lightness, and 8-hour battery life are also major advantages.  I could never use a full laptop on a bus — not enough space — but the netbook is just right.  Ditto on a plane.  The long battery life means I can use the device for long plane trips, and also don't have to haul the power supply with me in town if I deposit myself at, say, a Starbucks. I've found I can just routinely keep the netbook in the "courier bag" I carry over my shoulder everywhere with me.

Basically, my netbook is a high-productivity machine.  I see advantages to tablets, but I can't see achieving the same level of productivity without a keyboard and mouse (yes, I know you use your fingers, but there's a difference) and the ability to store large amounts of data.

Maybe the manufacturing gods will perceive the residual market for a small netbook-size laptop, maybe with more heft to appeal to a broader swath of users.  Or maybe the industry whiz kids that are trying to totally expunge keyboards and mice (and E-readers, byt the way), in favor of "entertainment" devices, will triumph.  Just have to wait and see what they all deign to hand down to us... 

 

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/13/2013 10:50:13 PM
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I was also sorry to see netbooks fade away

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/13/2013 9:08:55 PM
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..

Previously I wrote


Well, thankfully, there seems to be at least one stray from the herd, at least for the moment:

Acer still believes in netbooks for some reason
Other manufacturers have been bailing out of the once-hot market, but Acer vows to keep making the little laptops.

http://www.zdnet.com/acer-still-believes-in-netbooks-for-some-reason-7000004278/


 

Unfortunately, I was wrong — Acer apparently has joined the herd (as of beginning of 2013) and is ending netbook production.

I cling to a hope that perhaps in a couple of years, something like an updated netbook will re-emerge ... small, light, hopefully even thinner, with long battery life, and with the basic functionality of a PC, multiple USB ports, camera and other A/V, plus maybe GPS (like tablets have).  Maybe a mini-Ultrabook?  Even if it costs more than the current bargain-basement price of a netbook, at least it would be available. 

But who knows what the herd will be chasing after in 2 years...

 

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/11/2013 10:05:35 PM
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..

Rbaz writes


'But where are the analytics?' they may all be using the same decision making model. Hence the herd!


 

Well, thankfully, there seems to be at least one stray from the herd, at least for the moment:

Acer still believes in netbooks for some reason
Other manufacturers have been bailing out of the once-hot market, but Acer vows to keep making the little laptops.

http://www.zdnet.com/acer-still-believes-in-netbooks-for-some-reason-7000004278/

My Acer netbook arrived this afternoon, and it's got a significant jump in performance over my old one from 2010.

 

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/11/2013 2:08:56 PM
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Lyndon,

'But where are the analytics?' they may all be using the same decision making model. Hence the herd!

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/11/2013 9:19:55 AM
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I agree that fads seem to take over the various marketing departments. While mobile shopping is increasing, it seems remarkable that it will outshine credit card use in 2013 as noted. The use of social media by retailers and customers seems a bit overblown at this time. While there is a lot of what I call "time wasting" on social media, time might well quell the novelty of it all, but who know how much and when.

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/11/2013 9:01:33 AM
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..

Rbaz writes


... flocking torwards predicted trends in packs is the reality for consumer product manufacturers. Best to exit a line prematurely than to hold on to it too long.


 

Well, this is about what I figured — I see this as a kind of herd mentality.

But where are the analytics?  

If major auto manufacturers had followed this trend-based strategy a few decades back, they'd probably have dropped all production of sedans, coupes, etc. and concentrated all production on churning out SUVs.  Seems they were at least a bit smarter than that.

For all its high-tech blinginess, the computer and electronics manufacturing industry seems remarkably driven by fads rather than savvy data-based analysis.

 

Re: Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/9/2013 10:13:41 PM
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Lyndon, flocking torwards predicted trends in packs is the reality for consumer product manufacturers. Best to exit a line prematurely than to hold on to it too long. So it's not the money they can make this year building netbooks, but how much will they loose subsequently by not jumping in time to tablets. The other factor to consider is manufaturing supply chain which may change in cost and availability. Manufaturing is high risk/reward.

Predicting consumer needs/desires
  • 1/9/2013 7:59:30 PM
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..

I realize this blog article focuses on issues of HOW retailers will do their selling, but related to this is WHAT they are opting to sell.  The topic also seems to offer the closest thread to the issue I've been concerned with for several days — the computer industry's termination of netbook production in favor of tablets.

Particularly as a writer (among other roles), I've been dependent on my netbook. So, for about the past 18 months I've been looking for an upgrade, or at least a possible replacement, in the event my current Asus bites the dust.  Instead, what's happened is that the industry seems to have stampeded into replacing netbook production with tablet production.  

But tablets don't replace the flexibility and functionality of netbooks.  A tablet right now would be of very negligible use to me personally, but I understand that it's a useful device for many of you.  What I don't understand is why an entire industry has decided to carry out a shift from a device with the effective functionality of a PC to a device that eliminates a lot of this functionality.  See, for example:

The Netbook Is Really Dead: Asus (And The Rest) Won't Make Any More In 2013

Tech Tips - 101 Things You Can Do with a Netbook

Tech Tips - 13 Reasons why Netbooks trump Slates

Particularly after reading the first article above, I decided I'd better try to get a backup netbook while I still could.  I did find one (should arrive any day now), but I also found a veritable frenzy of other consumers racing to snap up netbooks, so that the number of available units seemed to decline almost as I looked at it.

While tablet sales have surpassed those of netbooks in recent years — latest figure I could find was for 2011, with 60 mn tablets vs. 32 mn netbooks sold — and while netbook sales are down from about 20% or the PC market to 10%, that's still 32 million consumers that seem to want netbooks. Yet production and retail have all but vanished.

... Which leads to my main point. On what basis does an industry like this gauge latent consumer demand?  It seems to me that if you can sell 32 million of a product in a single year, there's a fairly substantial demand for that product, so why exterminate it?

One could infer that a 60-mn-to-32-mn preference for tablets looks like a 2-to-1 vote "against" netbooks, but that inference overlooks key factors (e.g., lots of consumers already had netbooks, netbook upgrading and production by the industry dropped significantly, tablets were a new gadget, etc.). 

One might also argue that maybe netbooks are going the way of DVRs and film cameras.  But both of these devices were replaced by superior technology with equivalent functionality — VCRs by DVRs, film photography by digital.  So far, tablet technology looks like it replaces a basically creative functionality (netbooks) by a basically consuming functionality (tablets).  (I don't mean to denigrate tablets — obviously, there's still a lot of functionality, and these devices have advantages such as excellent graphics processing, portability, cellular capability, etc.).

I just wish I could get a handle on what drives an entire industry, other than a kind of herd mentality, to consign a quite useful technological device to quasi-extinction.

 

Re: Excellent
  • 1/8/2013 9:46:51 PM
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No question that 2013 will be challenging for retailers to keep up with online marketing demands. In such a competetive environment, chosing and navigating the most effective tools will be crucial, and staying on the sideline will not be an option.

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