If you purchased an electronic device during the last few weeks of 2011, you had a lot of company. The latest official figures are for November, 2011 from the U.S. Census Bureau News dated November 17 and December 13, 2011 show electronic and appliance sales up 6.2% over November 2010. What is also interesting is that eCommerce sales continue to rise dramatically as a percentage of overall sales. That means you were more likely to have purchase some kind of electronic device this year over last year and that purchase was even more likely to have happened online. Overall eCommerce sales were up 13.7% over the same period in 2010. But notwithstanding the increase in online sales, less than 5% of all sales take place online.
Current figures for particular electronics devices are hard to come by. For example, Apple iPad sales for 2011 were estimated to be over 40 million units earlier in the year compared to sales of 14.8 million during 2010. There are no specific figures for Amazon's Kindle sales, but Amazon acknowledges "millions" being sold. When you add in iPhone, Android phone, tablet and other electronics sales, you can begin to appreciate the size of the electronics market.
The sales figures portend an even more dramatic movement away from traditional information dissemination services and a shift to all online digitized media. Even the traditional print media is conceding the ascendancy of the electronic media. In a very recent news story, the UK/s Guardian newspaper had an online story entitled, "iPads and Kindles force newspapers further away from print, Economics of the digital world are only too evident to the press as handheld devices strike a death knell for old business models." The story goes on to explain,
A million iPads and Kindles may have been unwrapped on Sunday – according to tentative analyst estimates – an influx of portable technology that is expected to hasten a decline in the already faltering sales of printed newspapers, adding pressure on traditional business models that have traditionally supported so many titles around the country.The Guardian article goes on to relate the dramatic decline in print newspaper circulation,
Publishers, preparing for the handheld arrivals, took the chance to break with a tradition that dates back to 1912, when publishers agreed not to produce Christmas Day papers to give paperboys, among others, a day off. For the first time in its 190-year history the Sunday Times published a digital-only edition on 25 December – with the normally paid for product given away in the hope of luring sought after digital subscribers.
Fifty years ago two national dailies – the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express – sold more than 4m copies each; today the bestselling Sun sells 2.6m. In the last year alone, printed sales declined by 10% for daily broadsheets and by 5% for daily tabloids – and when the News of the World stopped printing last July 600,000 copy sales simply disappeared.
At the beginning of February, whether you attend or not, there will be a seminal event for genealogists in the RootsTech 2012 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the hallmarks of this Conference will be that the publicity leading up to the Conference has taken place and will take place almost entirely in the electronic media. Even the local Salt Lake City newspaper, the Deseret News, has given little print space to the conference. Almost all of the thousands of attendees will have learned about the Conference online either through the Conference website or through blog posts such as this one.
If you think that the revolution in print media is not going to affect genealogy in a dramatic way, then you will be sadly mistaken. It is now time to move forward with the technological changes coming to the entire spectrum of information/media services.