GoPro’s CEO Nick Woodman holds a GoPro camera in his mouth as he celebrates his company’s IPO at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, Thursday, June 26, 2014. GoPro, the maker of wearable sports cameras, loved by mountain climbers, divers, surfers and other extreme sports fans, said late Wednesday it sold 17.8 million shares at $24 each in its initial public offering of stock. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
We hate to tell you we told you so, but … we told you so (see our post of July 3, 2014
). Investors were initially stampeded by the sex appeal and attitude of the surfer dudes who were taking exciting videos of their surfing exploits, but now their motto may have changed from “eat camera” to “eat crow”
. Or, to segue to another mixed metaphor, this one-trick pony may have done its one trick already, and all the early adopters have already adopted. We wonder how many earlier buyers are actually continuing to use the GoPro, and how many newer buyers are putting up with the flawed documentation, steep learning curve, and difficulties of using the product to take videos and still pictures they are proud to post or to show their friends.
And what about competition? The GoPro Hero4 Silver costs $400. The Garmin Virb line has models for $200-400. But the $100 Polaroid Cube may be fine for the rest of us. Or the $76 SJCAM SJ4000. Or the $64 entry-level Yi model from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi (not as many features as the GoPro Hero4 Silver but some interesting ones such as selfie stick support).
Although Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below historical levels for most institutions, two institutions are notable for rating higher than their historial levels, the military at 72% and small business at 67% (as measured by the sum of respondents who said “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence), according to the June 2-7, 2014 Gallup Poll. Big business is a woeful 14th on the list and is rated at a meager 14%.
We at Technology Bloopers find the recent spate of acquisitions and mergers within both the technology sector (e.g., Western Digital and SanDisk, and Lam and KLA-Tencor) and other sectors (e.g., Walgreens and Rite Aid, and AB Imbev and SAB Miller) distressing, if only because “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”. And its first cousin agglomeration is not much better.
Do beer drinkers really want a world of boring lagers or one of tasty craft beers? Or do diners really want their meals increasingly dominated by garish and uninteresting gigantic chain restaurants (big business) serving below-average variety, taste, and healthiness of food or a world of eating with lots of tasteful (in both décor and food) provided by smaller, independent businesses with the owners on site? We didn’t think so.
“The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away” is a truly flexible and useful concept. We can replace “Lord” by such notions as “Technology” or “Internet” or “Mobile Devices” or a whole host of other products and services. And those products and services can be used to teach us, to inform us, to entertain us, etc. How valuable they are depends on the objectives of the individual or group in question. We’d guess that a large fraction of the folks who read the New York Times either work pretty hard or respect others who do work pretty hard. On the other hand those who spend a lot of time looking at or posting to Tumblr probably are at the other end of the spectrum, as Tumblr itself serves up such suggestions as “5 ways to waste the rest of the day” (by the way, you can find lots of OTHER folks using that phrase when you surf) and counsels its members that “work can wait”, presumably while you read or write posts on Tumblr.
To put this in perspective we took a look at how Americans spent their day in 2014, thanks to some detailed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of the 24.00 hours in a day, we spend 10.75 hours taking care of basic needs (sleeping, other personal care, and eating and drinking), 3.59 hours working or doing work-related activities, a meager 0.42 hours being educated (a low average because the majority of Americans are not enrolled in educational institutions), a whopping 5.30 hours on leisure and sports (which includes 2.82 hours watching television), and a modest 0.14 hours communicating (telephone, email, and snailmail).
But even the most casual observer would likely object to the low communicating figure from the BLS because everywhere you look people are peering into their smartphones. One study found that smartphone users spend two hours each day using those devices. And what are they doing with those phones? It depends on whose statistics you believe, but it is interesting to note that it’s not all entertainment. And it is even more interesting to realize that a smartphone enables its user to seamlessly shift between work-related and personal activities, so they aren’t all just wasting the rest of the day a la Tumblr. Whew, the American economy may not be in danger!