Durability: The Next Killer App

Posted by: Thom Denholm

Sea Change Hits Consumer Electronics as Customers Demand Long-term Value

For the first time in more than a decade, people are saving again. In 2007 and years prior, the savings rate hovered around zero as we maxed our credit cards and lines of credit, driving the savings rate into the red and giving the world's manufacturing base an almost unbelievable boom. In January 2009 though, something unexpected happened; the US savings rate suddenly moved above 5%, the highest in decades. As news of our cloudy economic picture has emerged, consumer behavior is shifting away from status-seeking luxury purchases toward more value-based buying patterns, forcing manufacturers around the world to take notice. And after decades of excess, the shift to thrift is looking like a lasting trend. But what does this mean for Embedded? As consumers focus on needs over wants, they will increasingly seek out products that are proven durable and reliable. This will have broad implications for manufacturers of everything from cars to clothing, refrigerators to embedded devices. Today's consumers are choosing efficiency, durability and value over gee-whiz gadgetry. Consumer mobile OEMs too must focus on delivering value and fewer, more targeted features. Rather than packing devices full of a laundry list of apps and expensive hardware, this means streamlined offerings and more segmented products, while making sure the consumer doesn't feel like they're missing out. Motorola's new EM330 is a prime example of this kind of pared-down, demographic-specific approach. The phone, called the MOTOROKR STAR is marketed specifically toward music lovers, offering a basic clamshell with music recognition software and download-on-the-go at a price point in the sub-$200 range. As OEMs scramble to add value and enhance their reputations for durability and reliability, Datalight responds with products that support those goals. The combination of flexible flash management that lowers bill of material costs, wear-leveling algorithms extend flash life by several times, and the rock-solid reliability of our file system become essential components of a strategy to provide value to customers. Many have remarked that markets are driven by a combination of fear and greed. Though the pendulum has recently taken a dramatic -- and we believe temporary-- move in the direction of fear, ultimately we know a move away from excess is good for all of us and good for the world we live in. Here's hoping the trend toward value and quality is a long-lasting one.

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