Where are all the gadgets?

Walk into a Best Buy or Fry’s and try to find anything close to the gadgets revealed in Engadget or Gizmodo. Where are they?

Last night I stopped by a Fry’s in San Diego to pick up a couple of things. Walking around the store (which, by the way, was the dumpiest and poorly merchandised Fry’s I’ve ever been in), I was struck by how many mass market, mainstream products they had and how few of the new or cool — even those that have been shipping for awhile.

Here’s one example: The Sony PCM-D1, portable field recorder. It’s $2,000 retail and appears to be awesome, but I’ve never held or tried one. Why? Best Buy would *never* carry one and Fry’s would if it was hot or had buzz. I’ve tried Guitar Center in two cities, but they both indicated it was a special order. So I’ve not yet been able to make a decision on entertaining its purchase.

In a world of reduced retail choice in favor of superstores, by default there is a finite amount of shelf space. I understand these limitations but it makes me wonder about ways to fulfill The Long Tail. As our ability to meet our needs in ever narrower ways continues to accelerate due to the internet — coupled with our desire to touch, feel, hold and tryout products before we buy — how will our choice  (or demand) meet supply?

One could argue that ecommerce will fill it. I don’t think so. Manufacturer’s of good and services will need to significantly ratchet up their willingness to provide demonstration units to distribution or find another way to ensure that their product can be fully understood by those who could buy. Maybe, just maybe, Best Buy will understand soon that The Long Tail is real and that they could put into place demonstration centers that tie in the touchy feely aspect of buying without them having to have in-store inventory (tie into BestBuy.com for next day delivery).

It will be interesting to see how a model emerges to meet the informational needs of buyers while providing us with what we need to experience products up close. Blogs are phenomenal ways to have trusted advisors recommend products and have links to buy them (e.g., Amazon Associates), but we still have the, “I want to touch, feel and play with it” problem to solve.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.