Analog Angle Article

When boom boxes go nano

Not that long ago, humongous boom boxes were the “in” thing, annoying all those around. But in a few years, we've made a 180-dgeree turn in what's cool, now, the iPod-like player is the thing, and smaller is better. (And others don't have to hear it, either!)

This illustrates several things. First, a trend is a trend, only as long as it is the trend. In other words, the fickle finger of fashion can turn on vendors very quickly. Second, today's market leader can become tomorrow's also-ran in a flash (pun intended), especially if that leading vendor is geared up to produce one type of product, and lacks the skills and infrastructure for that other product.

The cycles are getting faster. As the enabling technology and general culture cycles move ever more quickly, the time at which a style (and vendor) is able to command that top position shrinks. Adoption rates of new technologies, such as DSL or cable web access, are faster than previous adoptions. Complacency is dangerous.

At the same time, most people don’t change all their habits that quickly, and many infrastructure trends still take 10, 15, or even 20 years to become established. Human nature is still human nature.

And trends re-cycle. Perhaps in five or ten years, ostentatious boom boxes with some complex, streaming multimedia capability will be the hot item among teens—never say “never” or “that won’t happen”.

Personally, I liked the story and image of the fellow in New York who built an electrical and physical interface between his tiny cell phone and a standard, comfortable desk-phone handset (complete with coiled cord). He now walks around town using his cell phone, but with the desk-phone handset pressed to his head. What a brilliant way to get the best of both designs:the merging of cell phone convenience with the sheer comfort of a well-designed handset.

Bill Schweber , Site Editor, Planet Analog

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