Monday, 4 August 2014

Hello smart phone, goodbye camera, music player, sat nav . . .

The smart phone has become the go-to gadget for so many functions that it is pushing some established products into the decline stage of the product life cycle.

An article in today's Guardian lists a number of products and technologies that are in decline, thanks to the smart phone, including:
  • Mobiles. Plain vanilla mobiles are increasingly uncommon. Within six months, 80% of the UK market will be using a smart phone, rather than an ordinary mobile. A fraction of UK consumers will resist smart phones and retain their mobiles, but this type of phone is clearly in decline.
  • Landlines and pay phones. Who needs them? Landlines are more common than pay phones, of course. But even landlines are in decline as text takes over. As for the absence of pay phones, let's just say the Tardis will stand out in modern-day cities.
  • Cameras. Sales of inexpensive, stand-alone cameras are really in decline as consumers point and shoot with their smart phones. However, upmarket, feature-rich cameras (such as the new smart cameras and specialty 3D cameras) may attract photo enthusiasts, even those with a smart phone.
  • Music players. The Walkman is long gone, and sales of iPods are down, down, down. Apple's most recent results definitely show fewer iPod units being purchased, although a price cut for the iPod Touch has helped recent sales of that product. (Cutting price to prolong the product life cycle is a classic technique.) Smart phones are music players, so why carry an extra gadget?
  • Portable tape recorders. Remember when reporters used small cassette recorders to capture what interviewees said? There's not much market for a separate recorder when your smart phone can record voice or any other sound.
  • Netbooks. Small, portable, inexpensive. But now almost extinct.
  • Sat nav devices. With free sat nav apps available for smart phone users, individual sat nav devices are losing market share. No wonder the biggest sat nav brands have their own apps.