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Cellphones Have Destroyed, But Created Categories

The cellphone business destroyed some markets and created others. As soon as I saw the first flip phone that doubled as an MP3 player, I knew the MP3 market was eventually headed for a free-fall. Other folks scoffed.

When I saw the first flip phone with 1-megapixel camera, I knew the market for compact digital cameras was headed for trouble. Other folks scoffed.

Then smartphones and tablets began doubling as IR remotes for TVs and audio systems and Wi-Fi remotes for connected audio systems. With smartphones and tablets becoming primary music sources for many people, aftermarket autosound companies struggled to keep up with rapidly changing smartphone technologies to make robust connections between car stereos and smartphones. And I wonder what LTE-Broadcast technology will do to the fledgling market for mobile DTV receivers.

The cellphone/tablet boom, however, has also created new markets. Bluetooth speakers have entered the mainstream to play back music stored on and streamed from tablets and cellphones.

Smartphones and tablets have spurred the development of wireless multi-room-audio systems, which use mobile devices as music sources as well as system controllers. And the accessories market blossomed.

For CE retailers, many of which sell cellphones and tablets, did the market shifts help or hurt the bottom line? I’d like to hear from you.