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10 things not to buy in 2010

typewriterIf you told somebody in the 70th that typewriters will soon disappear they would probably laugh at you. It was however their inevitable fate just a few years later as personal computers grew more popular.

As technology advances entire classes of products get replaced and the process is well under way right now. In this blog post I will try to identify several consumer products that are about to go extinct. Don’t make a mistake investing in one of them in 2010.

Music CD

Just as audio tapes replaced vinyls and CD’s replaced the cassettes, downloads and live streaming is bound to replace music CD’s. Some may argue that the compact disk has tangible value and they will be right. The value however quickly gets overshadowed by the many benefits offered by the new generations of the music players. Free personalized music? Check out Pandora Radio. Free music on demand? It is already available in Europe with Spotify

Video DVD

The fate of DVD’s is even more certain than the fate of music CD’s. We don’t watch the same movie many times a day like we listen to the same favorite tune. The only thing in my opinion that holds video streaming from replacing DVD’s completely is the technological limitations, and we all know how that story goes. While Internet speeds catch up with the new demand - DVD rental companies are filling up the gap

Desktop computers

Laptops started as an expensive portable alternative to the personal computer. 2005 was the first year that laptops outsold desktop computers in the US. As volumes went up, prices went down. Anyone buying a desktop computer now should have a very strong incentive to not consider a laptop instead. Need a really cheap portable computer? Consider a Netbook.

Cable TV

We bought our house in 2003 and even back then I managed not to get hooked on an expensive plan from our cable company and instead enjoyed free (or cheaper) alternatives for entertainment online. Granted, to do so I had to connect a PC to my TV but you may not have to do it now. Many modern TV’s come already connected to the net and have built in interface to watch Netflix and YouTube.

Home phone service

As cell phone providers grow their networks, they are betting more on revenue from data usage while the voice plans get cheaper and soon may follow the way of SMS. The latest announcement came from Verizon who now offer $70 a month unlimited plans. The plan was $99 when it was first announced a year ago. Not surprising that many Americans choose to ditch their home phone. The only thing that keeps my phone number is the legacy and the last drop that is going to kill it is number portability for Google Voice.

Compact digital cameras

Convergence is the name of the game in portable gadgets this year. You will be hard pressed to find a cell phone without a camera these days. Recent models come with built in flash cameras boasting 5 Megapixel resolution. On the other hand SLR cameras are getting cheaper too which doesn’t really leave a place for yet another device to carry around when you already have a decent camera in your cell phone.

(Non-smart) cell phones

A lot of my friends have recently got themselves an iPhone or Droid and the first impression - ‘Gosh, I didn’t know this phone could do so many things!’. The applications that come with these phones offer such utilitarian advantage that anyone who tried them once will never want to go back. Give it another year and this list will have Nintendo DS and GPS Navigators in it among other things, all thanks to smart phones.

Newspaper subscriptions

Wide range of new online sources have made news more personal and interactive. Blogging, social sites, Twitter are working their way to replace the newspapers the way we know them. Small local outlets have been the most affected but the big guys are feeling the heat as well. Free online access to the Wall Street Journal? Here you go! Information today is as open as it has never been before.

Inexpensive men’s watches

A nice stylish watch will probably stay an important part of men’s outfit for a while however the cheap kind, the one you actually use to check time, is dead. I can see what time it is pretty much wherever I go. It is on my laptop, it is in my car dashboard, it is on my cell phone. Carrying another useless gadget on me? Thank you, no!

New college textbooks

College textbooks are similar to DVD’s, you use them once and you no longer need them. On one hand, websites like Chegg have made it easy to reuse these expensive books, on the other hand, college students are among the best adopters of new technology. Open-sourcing textbooks? Why not! Take a look at what Flat World Knowledge is doing.

Save on college textbooks with Chegg

Comparing book prices may sound like a good idea to save a few dollars on that bestseller you want to have on your shelf. But it may not be enough for the college students who struggle each semester to come up with a few hundred dollars for a new set of textbooks that University professors require to take their courses.

Students don’t have the money to buy textbooks, to attend the courses, to get a degree, to find a job, to earn the money as the result. Sounds like a chicken and egg problem, isn’t it? That is what Chegg is all about and that is where the name came from.

According to 2005 Government Accountability Office report textbook prices almost tripled between 1986 and the end of 2004 — rising by 186%. On the other hand teenagers and college students are probably the most active age group on the internet who are not afraid to try new things and experiment with new online services.

Chegg is the biggest of a several websites who try to monetize on this combination. The idea is very simple: build a community where college students can freely buy/sell used textbooks from each other and then use that community to make money by selling new textbooks and other merchandise. Here is how the marketplace works according to Chegg itself:

Chegg

The diagram for non-students is slightly different and involves a small fee — one more way for Chegg to monetize the website which in turn has gained so much momentum that Chegg is receiving another round of funding ($2.2 million) from Gabriel Venture Partners and angel investor Mike Maples.

But the team didn’t stop at the local market of University campuses. They went further and have made it easy for the students to publish their books for sale at Facebook — the biggest high school and college oriented social network. Isn’t it smart?!

What can I say — where was I when it all started in 2001 at Iowa State by one of the university students? Wherever I was — it was the wrong place to be. ;-)

Source: Web Sites Challenge the Textbook Goliaths at BusinessWeek




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