Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, August 19, 2011, HP, FamilySearch, Target, Walmart...

Some seemingly unconnected events are really the same thing: changes the format, name and emphasis of to a "new" site called (yes, it does not have a capital letter at the beginning, but neither did

Hewlett-Packard to spin off its personal computer business.  Yes, this means that there might not be any more HP computers on the market. What does this mean if you already own one or just bought one? keeps adding millions of records with images with many millions added just since the first of August, 2011.

Wal-Mart said same-store sales at its U.S. discount stores, by far its largest business, fell 0.9 percent in the second quarter, the ninth straight quarterly decline at domestic stores open at least a year. See Yahoo Finance.

Target reported second-quarter results Wednesday morning that included a solid rise in same-store sale, in contrast with rival Wal-Mart.

What do all these things have in common? They are all the results of business strategies, market conditions and corporate goals. In the case of's move with, this is a purely market oriented and business organization move. may have any number of motivations for the change, but none of them are based on what is best for the genealogical community, only what is best for By the way, I had it pointed out to me that the change may have a dramatic impact on member pages and memorial pages on the "new" It remains to be seen what will happen to all of the non-military records presently on Will they move to Or, what is possible, will create yet another subscription service and thereby another income stream. These decisions are not considering the impact on the genealogical community.

So how is that related to HP, Walmart and Target? Target has started a new campaign to sell more food items through their stores. Apparently, the program is working. Does that have anything to do with your own food purchases? Are you now more likely to go to Target than you were before? When you go to Target will you buy your food there, instead of at the local supermarket? Did Target make this decision based on your own interest? Both Walmart and Target are seeing an impact from basic changes in the economy and changes in markets. HP is seeing the same thing. Desktop computer sales are down and there has been a dramatic shift to Apple products. HP introduced a tablet computer with a huge ad campaign just a few weeks ago and now, announces that the tablet will be discontinued. Too bad if you bought one. Too bad if you signed up for a account.

So what does all this have to do with Even though FamilySearch is a non-profit organization, it still has a business strategy, it has to take into account market conditions and it has corporate goals. Fortunately, those goals coincide with the major interests of the genealogical community. Also, fortunately, FamilySearch is really trying to further genealogical research by making records more available rather than less available and at a higher price. But FamilySearch has strategic agreements with and some of its record images are on the now So what happens with will ultimately affect at least some of the records on's Historical Record Collections.

So market conditions affect large corporations in some of the same ways they affect you and me. It will be interesting to see what develops. 

There may be a lot more later.


  1. Thanks for a thoughtful post, James. By the way Target has been selling food at "super" Targets for a number of years.

    I think people are moving away from Walmart to Target when possible because the stores are cleaner and Target isn't having big class-action labor disputes.

    As to HP, I missed that they are already canceling their tablet. I had considered getting a new laptop and would only look at the HP lineup. Now I don't know what Ol' Myrt will do.

  2. You're one of the best reviewers/writers for us genealogists, James! These large companies offer us a service, but they do it for their advantage--with the goal of making money and staying in business. I was disheartened yesterday with all the complaints from the genealogy community about the changes. In this economy, they either change or they disappear. I'll accept the change!

  3. My last HP computer was a piece of junk. If their tablets were as junky as their laptops, I think we're all better off having them get out of the table (and smartphone) market. HP printers, on the other hand, have been worth the $$ for me.

    I agree with @DearMYRTLE's assessment of Walmart vs. Target. Our closest Target is about 30 miles away, and the closest Walmart is across the street. I would rather make the 30 mile drive for a better shopping experience. I can't speak for all Walmarts, but ours had reduced its inventory, giving shoppers fewer options... something Target does not seem to have done.

    I am sorry to see the footnote/fold3 changes. But then, I think I'm getting paranoid about all the recent changes anyway.

  4. DearMYRTLE - I was looking at HP netbooks earlier this week, and now am having second thoughts.

    James - thanks for the information about the fold3 decision impact on FamilySearch's record images. I hope it's not a negative (to the genealogical community) impact...

  5. Our Target is across town. Of the three WalMarts, the oldest is one of the three grocieries closest to our home. One of the others is in the same mall. I now go the the other grocery in the same mall, which has higher prices and twice the customer satisfaction. And I use Target as my variety store. I stopped going to WalMart about 18 to 24 months ago, when they eliminated the choices I had been having and were terribly slow at replenishing what inventory they did carry. WalMart went from my favorite store to the next-to-last store I would choose. I believe that in changing their marketing strategy they shot themselves in a very damaging way.
    I actually do believe in the bottom line; if it IS a business and not a not-for-profit organization, it must make a reasonable profit to survive. But the operative word is reasonable. When a business becomes greedy it begins to lose its customer base. (I'm not accusing any of the mentioned businesses of being greedy; no one told me the basis of the business decisions involved. Sometimes appearances are true and sometimes they are false.)

  6. Hi James, thanks for a thoughtful post. I agree that in the end it is all about marketing strategies. I don't know what's up with Walmart. I was getting all of my shopping done there but even at the nice new bigger Walmart I could not find the simplest items. I was totally peeved when they started pulling prized items off the shelf. Is this what fold3/ is going to do and hope we don't notice it?

    It's too bad about HP. Last year's laptops turned out to be really great! Most of my fellow graduate students bought them along with me, favoring them over the MacBooks, considering you could get 3 of them for the price of 1 MacBook. I was really hoping the non-Apple tablets would survive.