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Marketplace Morning Report

Products follow tech-savvy women

Kai Ryssdal Mar 24, 2008
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: Here’s a little known fact about the technology industry. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, women outspend men by more than $14 billion, so maybe the words “tech geek” should be changed to “g-tech,” for “girl-tech.” Kevin Pereira from G4’s back to talk about some of the gadgets being marketed to women and why. Kevin, good to see you again.

KEVIN PEREIRA: Always a pleasure.

RYSSDAL: Alright, so I think we need to address one thing up front. Is it “g-tech” for, you know, “girl-tech,” or you’ve got another word.

PEREIRA: Or you could say femme-tech and that will keep the fan mail rolling on in and the inbox will be full. No, you know, there used to be this mindset that are there girl gadgets? And yes, Kai, there were as long as they’re pink and sparkly and glittery and have puff paint accents, yes that’s a feminine product and sadly some manufacturers still act that way in this day and age. However, a large chunk of them are now realizing that women love technology as well, as long as it works and it’s designed with them in mind a little bit more.

RYSSDAL: What have you brought then anyway?

PEREIRA: I brought several devices. One is a new camera from Olympus, the FE-340, and this thing has a couple cool features. I mean, is it just for women? Of course not. It has features that guys would want in a camera as well.

RYSSDAL: Right.

PEREIRA: You know, it’s a 5x optical zoom. It’s slim. It’s got 18 different scene modes, but it has some other stuff. First of all, some camera manufacturers have actually designed their cameras so that the autofocus is at arm’s-length. Why did they do that? Well, women love to gather with their friends, hold the camera out at arm’s-length.

RYSSDAL: Not uh.

PEREIRA: And snap a photo, and as such, they’ve set the autofocus to be at that length. Now this is one of the cameras that has a smile-detection technology. It analyzes the people in the frames.

RYSSDAL: Smile, right?

PEREIRA: And when it detects a smile, flash goes off, but what it actually does is snap three photos. You know, so you can get the smile on its way in, hopefully when it’s at its fruition and then on the way out.

RYSSDAL: Oh, so it’s kind of winging it here.

PEREIRA: Right, but you can actually select which photo is best, and so if you are taking a photo at arm’s-length, and you can’t even see the screen, just give it a smile, and there you go, photo snapped.

RYSSDAL: So this thing, I don’t even know what it is. It’s small and it opens up and it makes noise.

PEREIRA: Well Kai, that’s a cell phone that has a color screen, so I know you’re confused. Have we upgraded yet? Come on.

RYSSDAL: No we haven’t. I still hate my cell phone.

PEREIRA: Alright, well maybe this one will sway you. This is the Wild Card. It’s for Virgin Mobile. It’s actually developed by Kyocera. This phone will actually piggyback on the Sprint network here in the states. So if you get it, you’re good to go. No contracts, and we’re talking a fully functional, again very slim, very streamlined product, with a full Qwerty keyboard.

RYSSDAL: Right, yeah open it up, as we do here, and it’s got the whole shooting match.

PEREIRA: Yeah, again it’s just slim, streamlined and it has all the functions you’d want.

RYSSDAL: How much of this though is marketing, versus actual change in functionality and design?

PEREIRA: Sure, for some devices it’s entirely marketing. Marketing is of course the message. It’s introducing that hot new color and showing women using this technology, and I don’t think, I mean does it work? To some extent, yes it does, but the other half of it is just actual change that occurs. Like if you look at the Wild Card that you’re holding there, or the Olympus, there’s nothing screaming “Hey this is a product for women.”

RYSSDAL: No.

PEREIRA: It’s just simply a streamlined product that’s designed with women in mind as well.

RYSSDAL: Fair enough. Let’s go to that last thing and for the life of me I do not understand the Chumby.

PEREIRA: This is one of those things that girlfriends don’t know they want in the house until the guy brings it home and explains everything it does.

RYSSDAL: Oh man, yeah.

PEREIRA: The Chumby is essentially a portable bean bag-esque device with a color touch screen and Wi-Fi Internet, that you can configure to display whatever type of information you’d like.

RYSSDAL: How does this fit into the femme-tech zeitgeist that we have going on here?

PEREIRA: Well, product design wise, I hesitate to say that it’s cute.

RYSSDAL: That’s so funny. That’s what I was just going to say.

PEREIRA: But it is adorable, and with a name like “Chumby.” You turn it on, the little Chumby character waves. That may in fact be talking down. I don’t mean to. I think the way it fits in is that it’s a way of organizing your information and your data at a glance, where the barrier to entry is minimal. You touch it, it turns on and you’re right there.

RYSSDAL: It’s “letters@marketplace.org,” just put “Kevin Pereira” in the subject line.

PEREIRA: All capital letters please.

RYSSDAL: And we’ll make sure he gets all those letters. Kevin Perreira from G4 Television, Attack of the Show. Thank you Kevin.

PEREIRA: Thank you. As always.

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