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Feel Sorry For Companies And Buy More (Please).

There is a troubling psychology to the business end of the technology and entertainment industries at the moment.  Both the electronics and computers (tech) sector and the entertainment industry are manipulating consumers and it is troubling how long their behavior has gone unreported.

You may have heard the rumblings from the technology sector that claim that the Christmas holiday shopping season saw a drop in consumer spending on electronics devices.  That statistic was biased by the exclusion of tablet computers, e-readers, cell phones and video games, which were some of the hottest selling items in the consumer electronics market in 2011.  It is easy for consumers to feel like they are listening to billionaire CEOs crying poverty while they try to cover their giant pot of gold.

In a similar fashion, Hollywood pundits have been complaining for years about declining grosses at the box office.  In 2011, the year actually ended on a surprisingly high note when Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol exploded past expectations at the box office, ending the year on an uptick.  But, the story that was reported was more “despite this uptick, the grosses for the year are still down.”  Analysts at movie studios have been fast to blame the improvements in home theater technology and the ease of streaming videos digitally as key factors in the decline in box office receipts.  In other words, because it is so much less expensive to make your own home theater and get what you want when you want it, you aren’t going out to the movie theater.  And Hollywood would like to say “shame on you.”

What both industries are hoping you will not do is stop and think about what is happening.  So let’s do just that.  The United States is in an economic downturn, what everyone but the chief economists are calling a recession.  That’s fine, that is how the U.S. economy is designed to work; nothing expands forever.  But during a time when more citizens are having greater difficulties just meeting their basic needs, the technology sector is complaining that it didn’t make enough money . . . except on the things that it did.  And Hollywood is complaining that too many people bought 3-D televisions and they aren’t paying enough at the movie theaters because they are waiting and streaming programs later.

Without suggesting conspiracy or collusion, these two major industries are creating the same psychological drive to spend money.  The movie industry, if it was truly as hard up as they would have you believe with their declining box office receipts, would simply stop making 3-D movies if it truly wanted you to stop buying the 3-D televisions and come back to the theaters.  Instead, they are making even more movies in 3-D, like Avengers, which was suddenly announced to get a 3-D facelift before its big summer release.  Upcoming products from the tech sector include new waves of Apple iPhones, the mini iPad and the thinnest televisions yet.

The point to all this is simple; both industries are complaining about not making as much money as they did during their peak years and they are essentially throwing a pity party for themselves in the media while they do it.  They are not offering consumers anything truly new – not indestructible hardware with the ultimate OS that will never need to be upgraded, not better movies – just hoping that we will take pity on them and pay more for the same type stuff they have put out before.  The thing about pity is, it is not a sustainable form of marketing and when consumers need to feed their families, hearing corporate executives complain that they only made $5.2 instead of $5.3 billion is not going to win consumers back.


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