Charles Howden

October 23, 2006

Do they put in the loft or do they put it in the skip?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles @ 8:18 pm

Sitting at the traffic lights on the Old Kent Road on Saturday afternoon, I noticed a busy retail store with loads of activity going on inside it. Glancing up at the shop front, I saw that the store was “Carphone Warehouse” and for a moment I sensed confusion. Carphone? And then I remembered. It was of course only five years ago when mobiles replaced carphones and now I wonder does anyone buy a carphone these days?

Thinking back fifteen years or so ago, I remember buying my first carphone, in a world when carphones were novel and something that caused comment. Now they are an irrelevance in a world of mobiles, blackberries, and PDAs.

Disposing of old carphones taught me about the temporal nature of hi tech. The first two, I probably put up in the loft because I couldn’t bear to take the £100 trade-in that the dealer offered (in the days when a new carphone cost £1,200). Of course I ended up throwing them in a skip a few years later when they were even more irrelevant and unusable. These days we have ebay, which could help except that canny shoppers on ebay are even more choosey about the technology they buy. So invariably, these days it’s the skip, straight away.

Which highlights the danger of pinning a brand name or brand identity on an item of technology; it must have seemed a good idea at the time. And although it did not seem to deter shoppers on Saturday afternoon, at some point it’s going to go out of date. I imagine the discussion goes on occasionally in the boardroom of Carphone Warehouse, do they put in the loft or do they put it in the skip?


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