generic electronics sector could still eat some major brands Did you know that there are Polaroid laptops and TVs? Or that there are hundreds of speaker brands, with very little to choose between them in sound quality?
This is the reality of Foxconn and the other super-factories in China. Some 80pc of the electronics industry is a commodity business.
Companies like Panasonic, Canon or Fuji, with their own factories in Japan, are increasingly an exotic rarity. We may gravitate toward brands such as Samsung and Apple, but many of the things we say we want are now being rolled out at basement prices.
Even phones could soon suffer this fate. The newest crop of budget smartphones are set to have 5.5-inch screens and dual cameras, similar to today’s top-level iPhone 7 Plus. Much of the incremental improvements are occurring in software.
But Google provides the same Android updates to any Android device, whether it costs €799 or just €99. Of course, some argue that it was ever thus. Brands still prevail because they advertise – creating demand – and providing shops with higher margins when customers agree to pay a higher price than a generic alternative.
Whether online sales will change this remains to be seen. In general, physical stores are starting to see an accelerated decline in their business due to competition from Amazon and other giant online etailers.