That, and whether the price of a basic piano is $125 or $300. In other words, in the past, people would make the same calculation they can today.
What really happened?
While we know what’s behind that long period of relative inaction, we only have some bits of information about why that trend started and when it happened.
The best guess: The industry moved from a consumer market to a maker market, where companies make hardware in bulk (rather than a bunch of independent shops producing custom piano boards.) So while it hasn’t ended, we have plenty of information that explains why it started.
So how does this impact the rest of us?
First and foremost, the market has really taken on a life of its own, much like the computer market today. The more manufacturers are out there making their own hardware, the more it becomes easy and obvious that someone or some corporation controls the entire market. That’s not a good thing for anyone, not to mention consumers.
Second, many of these companies are taking the opportunity to compete for business with other manufacturers. So it’s only natural that one would have a competitive advantage in one area:
Third, this trend of increasing competition is forcing hardware companies to compete on price as well as quality, which gives them higher margins and, consequently, more money to pay their employees and suppliers. We’re going to get into a few examples soon, but the more competitive manufacturers are driving this.
Now, the final factor to consider: The more companies compete, the less choice there is for consumers.
There are a few reasons we can think of to this. These reasons have nothing to do with hardware and everything to do with how we see technology in general: The better our devices become, the less reason there is for us to waste time looking for things we don’t need. (For example, I don’t need a car that is always on, because I already drive cars that I absolutely love and use. I wouldn’t buy a car that doesn’t get me to work on time and at my most productive hour.)
In other words, the less competition there is, the more value there is for each new consumer technology. The higher quality that this technology produces, the more value those things have for other consumers.
This helps explain why the iPod was one of the few products whose price kept rising while the performance per dollar dropped
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