In November, worn thin after a year of reading about scores of nearly identical gadgets promoted in very similar moodily lit adverts, we urged: "We are living in a new age of austerity. Environmentalism is no longer just a crunchy cause, but also a corporate mandate. Simple is good. So why has product spam spun out of control? Perhaps HP (and others) didn't get the memo? Whatever the reason, one thing is now painfully clear: Product spam must stop!" We cited HP for spamming the shelves of your local computer store with incredibly similar computers, each bearing slight innards tweaks and obscure product names, but we threw mud at smartphone makers too—firms like RIM that desperately try the shotgun effect to market success by launching many similar products in the hope that one hits the target. It's bad for the soul, bad for shopping, bad for the environment, we wailed.
HTC, for one, has seen the same light. A prime-time Android smartphone maker, among other things, the Taiwanese firm has realigned its strategy for 2012 and will now be issuing fewer phones throughout the year. It's actually diversifying its lineup—releasing its first smarpthone for 2012 under the Windows umbrella rather than Google's—but overall the firm will be trying to keep things much simpler, with fewer devices meaning it can focus on genuine delivery of quality of build and user experience. The decision means it'll also be able to concentrate and avoid expensive legal suits, like the one it just lost against Apple.
Amazon too looks set to keep things simple in 2012. There are rumors it's working on a swift follow-up to its Kindle Fire tablet...but the current tablet is about as un-spammy as you can get, coming in just a single one-size-fits-all flavor (a nice contrast to Samsung's dozens of Galaxy-branded smartphones, tablets, toothpicks, shoe-polishers, etc, etc, etc). We expect Amazon to continue keeping it simple in 2012.
So product spam isn't dead yet. But several leading firms seem ready to reconsider the habit.
[Image: Flickr user Christopher Chan]