Tough times put focus again on 'fixer-uppers', of the technology kind and other

by Michael Smith

The one thing that seems to happen when the economy takes a downturn or even worse is that it makes people accidentally “green”. This includes holiday tech gifting.

I have indicated that in the article about the DIY Christmas gifts and it holds true for other things too.

Apparently gadgets sales, in the US at least, have dropped for the first time this year during the after-Thanksgiving holiday rush. So what are people focusing on in the techy sector if not new devices?

They are focusing on adding to, improving or upgrading they old gadgets and such, and that's what it looks like for sure. Not a bad thing, I am sure.

Cheaper alternatives to a new desktop computer, including notebooks, also should do well, as heavy discounts have brought some laptop prices down to $500 or less. While those may not be the top of the range they are good enough for most users.

Another possible hot PC alternative is the NetBook, the small, lightweight laptop designed for e-mailing and Web surfing that tends to be slightly cheaper than a laptop, but just slightly.

I must admit that I have gone out this year twice now and actually spent money on new computer equipment; once for a new laptop and then, as a Christmas present to myself, I am afraid to say, to by an ASUS Eee PC NetBook.

A Netbook, however, is much more the ideal companion if the computer is to be used “on the road”, so to speak.

With some of them having rather big hard drives installed – but that makes them somewhat pricier – they can replace a standard laptop even.

The Eee PC that I got myself has a 16GB solid State hard drive – e.g. a flash drive – and, as far as I can see, that will be sufficient enough for my needs.

On the other hand, however, I very much believe in fixing up things and that is why my place is cluttered up with old(er) computers in the same way as the garage is full of abandoned and thus found bicycles. All to be fixed up at some stage, or broken down for spares, and in order to upgrade others.

Director of community at Retrevo, a search engine that focuses on consumer technology purchases, Adrew Eiser, says that it looks like consumers are focusing on adding to the devices they already own instead of making big purchases. Rather than new gaming consoles, for instance, they are buying just the games.

This year will be one of "technology as a fixer-upper," said Stacy DeBroff, the chief executive of Mom Central, a Web site for mothers.

"That's where you see, 'I won't get you the latest iPod, but I'll load up your iTunes,'" DeBroff said. "That's technology augmenting what exists, instead of making a big splurge for something that's new."

In addition to this there will be fixer uppers in other areas as well, as regards to presents, especially for children, of that I am sure. And there is certainly nothing wrong with it. The bicycle that someone else's child has grown out of and which is perfectly good in other ways but just needs to good thorough cleaning and such; the bike that is fixed up from another, or whatever, they are all, in my opinion, acceptable and the children should be happy with it and they will be if raised the proper way.

While it may be difficult for children – if they were not used to it – to understand this initially it will put them in good stead for life further down the road and I do not mean in case, which may still happen too, the economy dives even further.

While this is the present trend, so to speak, that it would appear that people are going for the fixing up rather than buying brand new this may still change if people, in light of the prices falling due to, such as in the UK, reduction in sales tax or just simply because there are closing down sales, as in the case of Woolworth. Folks then might decide to buy new things at a greatly reduced price but... to be honest, I cannot see people going out to spend lots that way especially not if they realize, which i am sure they will, the way we are headed, namely further down the drain.

In a way this is good green news.

What we’ll hopefully see is less new electronic hardware sold, a growing use of already owned gadgets, and a higher purchase rate for used electronics. If this is the case, like many industry analysts predict it will be, it’ll be a greener winter (and not in the global warming sense).

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008