If growing online sales of heavily discounted consumables are an indicator of consumer confidence, we might be heading out of the depths of the dire economic situation that has blighted us of late. comScore is reporting that retail e-commerce spending topped $1billion this Black Friday, a 26% increase from the previous year.
However, as Newton’s laws of motion clearly states: To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Early reports are indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8%. Amazon were the biggest winner in this online boom, being able to claim it was the most visited e-commerce retailer and posting the highest year-over-year visitor growth rate. Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple make up the remainder of the top 5.
The 3D printing craze continues to pick up momentum with the latest efforts focusing on enabling people to model perfectly formed replicas of themselves. Omote3D (http://www.omote3d.com/), a company hailing from the global hub of teenage trendsetting Harajuku, Tokyo, allows customers to have a full-body scan and leave with a 10-20cm model of themselves. The eerily detailed figures are the project of branding agency Party, who looks to replace old-fashioned two-dimensional family portraits with their miniature figurines.
Tokyo isn’t the only city in on the print-yourself craze. MakerBot, the poster boy of the 3D printing revolution, recently opened shop in New York and offers customers the chance to print their own head for the bargain price of $25. Though lacking the detail and refinement of Omote3D’s, the heads are constructed from monochrome plastic filament with a choice of lurid colours to entice people from across the spectrum to take part.
Whilst these uses may seem trivial, there’s a lot of hype around the potential of 3D printing. One blogger even making the point that the mug shots that line the walls of police investigation rooms could be replaced by the busts of offenders.
Once the mainstay of all domestic brother, sister, mother and father arguments, device makers themselves are now to wage war on whom controls the oft biggest screen in the house. It’s commonly accepted amongst tech speculators that the next big disruption is going to be in the television industry. Although most of the major tech players have began taking steps, no one is yet to figure out just quite how to crack the heavily guarded industry, with the biggest obstacle in convincing archaic minded executives that they’re going to have to evolve or die.
Whilst it’s clear consumers want the ability to rent content on demand rather than pay for costly monthly subscriptions to watch the same repeat week in, week out, the television industry lives in a monopolistic vacuum created by the service providers to prevent anyone taking over their lucrative position. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Sony and Apple all have efforts to get their devices into your living room and rid yourself of cumbersome interfaces of the current batch of set top boxes. However, without the opening up of regulations and loosening of minds, we’re some way off achieving this dream.