To Alpha. Index To Manuf. Index To Category Index Part No. Index
WEB SPECIALS NEW PRODUCTS VIEW CART
Welcome to the January 2009 Issue of the Electronix Express Newsletter
With consumer spending on entertainment slowing down, consumers will happily spend more to improve their at-home entertainment experience instead of splurging on outings to restaurants, movies, and weekend getaways. That means bigger TV screens to connect to video game consoles for family rounds of Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, or Nintendo Wii. Anderson says "People have been investing in bringing these screens into their homes for years, but very few of them are fully gamed up."
Anderson further predicts, "In terms of innovation and investment and purchase, phone applications are it for 2009." Smartphones are not only going to be running more applications, they'll also be capable of handling ever more complex tasks. Voice recognition will become both powerful, accurate, and common among mobile-phone applications. In addition, mobile PCs will continue to evolve, too, Anderson says. Netbooks, the popular new class of lightweight computers, will grow into an important market segment. "If you're looking for growth rates, the strongest will be in this category, and it will be beyond debate," he says. "Until now, it's been debatable. Everyone will have one. The only question will be what color it is."
To Top Of Page
Other schools across the country, from Michigan to Maryland and Texas to North Carolina, are coming to the same conclusion-that advanced wireless devices can be used as much for learning as for entertainment. However, at many schools, the use of cell phones in the classroom is still in an experimental phase. A big hurdle to cell-phone use is resistance by teachers. Liz Kolb, who teaches courses on new technologies for teachers at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich., and at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, now requires her students to try various cell-phone exercises with their kids. Over the past several years, the children have used mobiles to create raps about math, answer foreign-language quizzes, and record theatrical radio programs. Kolb says most of her teacher-students arrive at the first class with zero interest in using cell phones for learning. But by the end, 30% to 40% are using it regularly in their classrooms, she says. Her book on cell-phone learning, Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education, will be published by the International Society for Technology in Education and come out in October. As far as Kolb and others are concerned, educators have more to gain from embracing cell phones than they do from keeping them out of the classroom. "The educational segment is lagging behind the sophistication of the students," says McKinney of HP. "They need to catch up."
To Top Of Page
It's called TRIZ, a Russian acronym for the phrase "the theory of solving inventor's problems." The core ideas were dreamed up by engineer and science fiction writer Genrich Altshuller, whose critique of the Soviet Union's record on invention in the late 1940s landed him in the gulag. There, he learned from imprisoned scientists and, when he was released, put together a step-by-step innovation method for people who aren't born with the gifts of Edison or Einstein. Since then, his theory has evolved into an elaborate system for analyzing problems and generating solutions. In contrast to brainstorming, TRIZ uses deep analysis of possibilities based on science and math algorithms.
It's difficult to predict how big a deal TRIZ will become. These days, TRIZ is coming on strong at corporations hungry for new ways to improve innovation and productivity beyond what they've already achieved with the widely adopted Six Sigma and Lean techniques. In addition to GE, TRIZ fans include Intel, Samsung, and Procter and Gamble, as well as smaller companies like FuelCell Energy, a Danbury (Conn.) leader in power-generation fuel cells. So far, 382 GE employees in 70 teams have completed the training. Supervisors have green-lighted 90% of their conceptual designs, and product development is now under way. Not bad for an obscure theory born in Stalinist times.
To Top Of Page
The problem at the heart of the industry today is that CE companies still design for their original, early adopter geek audience. But, now that grade schoolers and hockey moms carry iPhones, consult their GPS for driving directions, bank online, and share family photos on Flickr, CE companies need to do more than rely on consumer curiosity to stay alive. The digital lifestyle is no longer one-size-fits-all, and today's impatient and fickle mass consumer expects more than the complicated, unsatisfying out-of-the box experiences that have become an industry norm.
CE brands need to match the right product to the right consumers and then connect with them meaningfully at every point of contact. The 360-degree experience includes everything from packaging, design, and marketing to after-market support such as programs to help customers discover product benefits and end-of life recycling programs. Few shoppers visit manufacturer's Web sites for information. Rather, they used third party sources such as CNET, customer reviews on Amazon or the advice of their peers. It's no surprise, then, that there is little-to-no brand loyalty. Except, of course, for Apple who has succeeded in translating geekspeak, like "120GB," to terms anyone can understand, like "30,000 songs." The CE industry needs to stop talking techspeak and speak in terms that mean something to the rest of us.
To Top Of Page
E-biking is getting a jolt as big retailers get in on a market once dominated by specialty bike shops. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart began selling bicycles from Currie Technologies, the largest maker of e-bikes in the U.S., in 145 stores. More recently, the world's largest retailer expanded availability to more than 450 locations. By next spring, Wal-Mart plans to carry the gadgets in more than 850 stores, says Larry Pizzi, president of CurrieTechnologies. Toys "R" Us plans to expand its distribution of the e-bikes tenfold, to 550 stores. Major bike brands including Schwinn have jumped into this market, to compete with Chinese firms and high-end startups. They've helped improve e-bikes' battery life, acceleration speed, and charge-up time. Bruno Maier, executive vice-president for marketing at Cannondale Bicycle, the maker of Schwinn-brand bikes, expects his company's U.S. e-bike sales to jump fivefold between August 2007, when Cannondale introduced its first electric bike, and next year-faster than sales in any other bike category. To meet anticipated demand, the manufacturer plans to double its investment in e-bikes in 2009 and to establish a separate product group focused on the motorized models.
To Top Of Page
The vast majority of netbooks are powered by Intel's Atom processor, an energy-efficient chip inside 19 of the laptops listed with the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program. How efficient is it? Atom sports a maximum thermal design point (TDP) of 2.5 watts; compare that with Intel's Core 2 Duo chips, which have a TDP of 65 watts. That not only makes the notebooks more efficient, it makes the machines using them cooler and quieter, a key feature for a netbook. Netbooks' efficiency is likely to increase in the year ahead. More power-conscious ARM-based netbooks are coming in 2009 with chips that will use no more than one watt of power.
But perhaps netbooks' greenest feature is their whole approach to personal computing. Netbooks are good enough for most of what consumers want to do most of the time: e-mail, web browsing (including blogging), music, and some occasional online video. Their low price is attractive as well and because of this they're likely to become the computer of choice for consumers looking for nothing more than light-duty Internet machines.
To Top Of Page
Copyright © 1996-2004 Electronix Express
A Division of R.S.R. Electronics, Inc.
365 Blair Road
Avenel, New Jersey 07001
Phone 1-800-972-2225 (In NJ 1-732-381-8020)
Fax 1-732-381-1006; 1-732-381-1572