The pace of technology.

I have two teenagers. More correctly my sons are 19 and 21 years old. Between them and my wife and I we own every kind of gadget you can think of. TVs, DVD players, laptops, iPods, cellphones, minidisc players, and so on. In fact each one of us has more than one of each of those devices.

As new devices have come out my kids have sold their old gadgets so that they can buy new ones. The New York Times has noticed this:

Consider Greg Stoft, 18, who lives with his parents in Fremont, Calif. He wanted to buy a $45 skateboard, but he doesn’t work and his parents recently decided to tighten the purse strings, he said. To get the money, he decided to sell his used iPod Nano on Craigslist, the free online bulletin board.

Though they note that teens are driven to new gadgets by their hipness factor, one quote suggests that teens are forced to adapt new technology:

“It is part of this generation’s DNA,” said Gary Rudman, president of GTR Consulting, a youth-culture market research firm in San Francisco. “This generation is forced to adapt, adopt and advance when it comes to technology. Basically what’s happening is, unlike previous generations that had the luxury of understanding a piece of technology and slowly adopting it, this generation is on a treadmill.”

It isn’t that teens are forced to adapt; they do it by nature.And technology is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Cassette tape players debuted in 1964. CDs didn’t arrive until 20 years later in 1984. Then it only took a little more than a decade until MP3s appeared. Thirty years of progression in listening to music. And in those years nothing really changed on the players.

Consider the iPod. Introduced in 2001 it has progressed in a mere 5 years from being a music player to a video player, and eventually to a phone. In a generation of teenagers with plenty of disposable income, it is more of a fashion accessory than a gadget. And essentially a disposable one.

Cellphones follow the same trend. From phones to cameras to music players to email devices in that same five years.

Technology is changing incredibly quickly and teens are merely adapting to it as they always have. This is the kind of planned obsolence scenario that marketers and technology companies can only dream of.

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