A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream
Although in days gone by, you might have described anyone who had an unhealthy obsession with gadgets as geeky’, it would be highly inaccurate to describe gadgets to be outside the mainstream’ in this day and age. Despite an economic downturn in recent years, people are still buying gadgets like never before. In fact you might say we are living in the age of the gadget.
So how have gadgets gone from being geeky to mainstream? Here are 3 very good reasons:
1) The iPod
When Apple, then a down on its luck computer company, launched a quirky new portable music playing device in 2001 the reaction from industry analysts was one of general bemusement. The consensus at the time was that Apple had come too late to market and that the new gadget had little commercial potential, especially as the first generation was only compatible with less than 5% of the computers in the USA. At the official launch Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the assembled journalists that Apple was going to be the market leader. Few of them took any notice.
As a result of the success of the iPod, and later on the iPhone and iPad, Apple is now one of the world’s largest companies with an estimated worth of over $100 billion and a market share of around three quarters of the portable music player market. So how and why did this happen?
Essentially what Apple did was to simplify two processes. Firstly, they simplified the process of using the device itself with its easy-to-use dial system. Secondly they simplified the process of purchasing and getting music onto the device using the revolutionary iTunes software. In short, they made a music player that non-geeks could use.
A brilliant marketing campaign which the music business to promote Apple’s brand personality worked like a charm. This was a device that was easy to use. This was a device that was cool. This was a device that everybody wanted. With one product, Apple had changed the entire gadget market.
2) Celebrity Endorsements
When Oprah Winfrey gave a glowing review of The Kindle on her TV show, Amazon sold out of their ebook reader due to unanticipated demand from an army of Oprah fans. A-list celebrities from Miley Cyrus to Justin Timberlake have been photographed out and about carrying their iPads. Paris Hilton and Barack Obama never go anywhere without their Blackberries. Celebrity endorsements, especially ones where no money has changed hands, are very powerful indeed. Gadget endorsements by celebrities, both intentional and unintentional, are now commonplace.
Not only are endorsements such as these a signal of quality for potential gadget consumers, but they also appeal to a part of our brain which seeks a connection with our heroes. They have also done a great deal to spread the view that gadgets aren’t just for geeks.
3) Social Networking
The statistics regarding the number of Facebook and Twitter users are astonishing with Twitter approaching 200 million users and Facebook accumulating a mind blowing 500 million users. The enormous growth of social networking has affected the gadget market in two ways.
Firstly, as the use of such social networking sites grew, so did the demand for accessing these sites on the move. Social media addicts want the ability to let people know where they are and what they are doing at any given time. They want to live tweet events. They also want to know what their friends are up to. The integration of social media with gadgets such as mobile phones, tablet pc’s and even video cameras is now a huge selling point.
The second way social media has affected the gadget market is through the power of word of mouth’ endorsements from friends and followers. You see your friend has bought something on a social network your natural reaction is to want to buy it too. Companies have cottoned onto this and are now actively using social media in an attempt to start the conversation’ about their gadgets. Expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.
=== About the Author ===
MSM Software, is an award winning UK software development company that provides custom application design and management.