September 24, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

“Toys”: Out With the Old; In with the New

“Toys”: Out With the Old; In with the New

“Dear Lord be with me as I try to explain to my mother how to switch from the DVR to the DVD on her new TV – ON THE PHONE.” That Twitter moment from my friend PR friend in Detroit, Lisa Dilg said it all: It’s out with the old toys – and it’s amazing what has become obsolete, but it’s more amazing where the new toys are going!

The Huffington Post recently had a great list of products that have become obsolete in the past decade. What they missed is what is coming next. Inspired by that article, reader posts, and Twitter comments, here are the old toys that are going away, and where their evolution is leading:

Landline Phones. More people are dropping their copper-connected phones for their more flexible mobile devices. The big buzzword for 2010 in the Telecom sector is Unified Communications, or “UC.” Cisco Unified Communications and Microsoft Office Communicator will go a long way to replacing phones in offices. Costs are reduced by connecting calls over the Internet and by replacing telephone hardware with “softphones” that live on your computer’s desktop. Features and software can seamlessly be upgraded during off-hours.

Fax Machines. Unless you still don’t trust an encrypted e-mail or need to send documents to a college financial aid office, these puppies are gone. Forty years ago, fax machines were free-standing in weather offices to receive those big weather maps. Later they become the desktop screechers that we learned to love. OK, not love. In fact, this may be the only item on the list I won’t miss.

People Buying 200+ Books per Year. Amazon this week announced that it sold more Kindle books than physical books – a first. Kindle is the Amazon-created 10 ounce, Wi-Fi connected tablet-like device that can hold more than 1,500 books. The larger model holds more than 3,500 books. More likely than not, this is a midpoint in the evolution of electronic books as the publishing industry evolves. When you think  more colleges are starting to use computer-based “virtual” books, there may be no stopping this slow-moving wave.

Film Cameras. Thanks to the digital revolution, more than 200 of my photos have been printed around the world, but more have been seen online, thanks to the blogs that post them. Lower priced cameras with better results are creating a new generation of photographers and photojournalists – for better or for worse. The move to digital video will continue as the networking giant Cisco has purchased the popular SNAP video camera brand. That could make the end game interesting and wireless, but an amazing still photo will always stop us in our tracks, even if it was taken on a video camera.

Classified Ads and job postings in newspapers are really gone now, both replaced with online services. The future promises the ability to better target the needs of  item sellers with seekers and job hunters with hiring companies. Both will see a way to reduce cost and improve efficiency. However, how you advertise this will change dramatically and is still evolving. More importantly, how you brand yourself online will be of key importance.

CD Stores. A decade ago, there were records and CDs. Today, more music is downloaded from iTunes, eMusic or Rhapsody, or it’s just listened to on Pandora, GrooveShark, Slacker, Last.fm or any other music sites. Most smart phones can stream the radio live – and that means it’s easy to get your perfect music for your mood from your phone anytime, anyplace.

While we’re at it, your local video store will become any-movie-on-demand over your computer within the next five years. Wireless solutions will move the video through the air to your screen, so don’t get the cables just yet.

Yellow Pages and White Pages. I don’t use them. Please stop dropping them off at my house.

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and Thesauri in Book Form. Yes, thesauri, according to m-w.com (Merriam-Webster online search). Now with Google starting its own dictionary to add to its vast library of online books, my guess is you will see this evolving sooner rather than later. Of concern may be, like the newspaper industry, how to continue to make the other sites profitable if Google is giving away the goods.

3 Pound Cell Phones. You can still get a 3-pound pizza, but those old 3-pound cell phones are gone. Just ten years ago, they looked so cool. And they didn’t even text.

Lists of Products That Became Obsolete in the Last Decade. At least for another ten years, this too, will be obsolete.

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