Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK -

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.

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