Hand-held devices to dominate holiday sales

Sep 17, 2010
Tech

Best Buy (BBY) says iPads are hurting netbook sales as it remakes stores to focus on portable gadgets. Also, we offer a few apps to remember when key holidays start. Holiday sales: Tabs hot, netbooks not The product that appears to be most impacted by the Apple (AAPL) iPad is the netbook computer, according to an […]

Best Buy (BBY) says iPads are hurting netbook sales as it remakes stores to focus on portable gadgets. Also, we offer a few apps to remember when key holidays start.

Holiday sales: Tabs hot, netbooks not

The product that appears to be most impacted by the Apple (AAPL) iPad is the netbook computer, according to an executive from Best Buy. This doesn’t really come as a surprise as the netbook has been under pressure for at least a year, as prices for more powerful and bigger laptops hovered around $500, close to netbook prices. Now comes the iPad, sleeker than either netbooks or laptops, even if the more traditional type of computer is more useful for many functions.

The iPad, of course, is fun and offers options that are quite appealing. As are many other hand-held devices, such as the $139 Amazon Kindle, that are expected to be big holiday winners for retailers, according to this Wall Street Journal report.

“Shoppers this Christmas can expect to see more smartphones, electronic readers and touch-screen computers in the most prominent store displays, underscoring a dramatic shift to powerful portable devices that is fast changing the face of consumer electronics retailing,” according to the story, noting that Best Buy is “morphing into a mobile gadget specialist after decades of promoting the latest in big-screen televisions, desktop computers and high-fidelity stereos.”

The reasons are many, but the shift from pushing big-screen TVs and refrigerators to portable devices is pretty simple: gadgets are fun and easy to use. The learning curve and fear factor from middle-aged, middle American is dropping quickly as gadget makers such as Apple have built products that are simple to operate. Plus, consumers are finding the Internet-is-everywhere aspect of mobile phones to be quite handy, if not addicting.

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“It’s a very different environment now,” Stephen Baker, the chief electronics analyst for market researcher NPD Group Inc., told the WSJ. “The real cool stuff now will be the tablets, e-readers and probably the higher-end digital cameras.”

Holiday reminder

You are forgiven if you didn’t remember the evening of September 17 marks the start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is perhaps the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar, yet the Jewish calendar can be a confusing thing. Last year, for instance, Yom Kippur started on September 28 and in 2008, it was October 9.

Technology, of course, is here to help us remember such things and the following iPhone apps will help you remember when the holidays start, no matter your religion. These apps also mark holidays including Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day. If nothing else, these apps are great for helping you plan a vacation.

— IsWhen (free) offers a straightforward list of holidays. Click on one and you’ll find out when it starts.

— Holidays Calendar (99 cents) is a little slicker and includes bank holidays for Europe. (Again, useful for vacation planning.)

— Holiday Countdown ($1.99) might be overkill, but it is customizable and includes a description of the history of each holiday.

Speaking of history, if you’re curious about the origins of Yom Kippur — or are Jewish and can’t make it to a Temple or Synagogue to celebrate the High Holiday — you can check out a lively online service led by Rabbi Naomi Levy. I’ve watched her service twice and have thoroughly enjoyed the festivities.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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