First up was whilst I was reading the latest edition of Wired. Atari announced the 2600 at CES in 1977 and went on to sell 30 million consoles. Ask most teens today about games console brands and they’ll say PlayStation, Xbox and Wii despite those enormous sales figures. It made me think a couple of things…
Not only will those teens likely not mention Atari when pressed for another name but they will also probably not really think of the three premier consoles as being related to their parent companies (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo). The state of the art is temporary when you can sell 30m of something and be forgotten when the next era kicks in. Oh and branding, something I’ve always had a curios interest in really is an art when your product transcends the name of your company. All three in this category have done that and frankly, it’s not a great thing for any of them IMHO as the halo effect is a powerful thing if you can get brand association between your product lines and across the company. Kudos to Apple who have done that with the letter i rather than the name Apple.
The second stat was early in a long and wide ranging op-ed for Bloomberg back in July titled How to Make an American Job Before It's Too Late. He harked back to the Atari 2600 era and noted that manufacturing employment in the US computer industry is around 166,000 - lower than before the MITS Altair 8800 in 1975. The whole piece goes on to explain the shift of manufacturing to China and others Asian locations but it surprised me both because of the scale of the shift but also that there were that many working in the manufacturing side of the industry back in 1975. There are a few other stats in there that are equally amazing – not least the size of Foxconn and their revenue compared to Microsoft, Apple and others.
Anyway…just a few numbers I thought I’d share for the end of the weekend
(nb. the Grove piece names the Altair as the 2800 which I think is incorrect. pretty sure it was the 8800).