If you've been in an electronics store recently or just browsed online at the latest tech gadgets, you may have noticed more leopard print and pink electronics. I'm not sure when the "pinkifying" of technology started, but I first noticed it a few years ago when QVC sold an Asus netbook in two color choices, hot pink and copper. It must have done well, because soon girly netbooks were airing daily. Hewlett-Packard soon offered a glossy peony-print Vivienne Tam designed netbook, next were leopard print flashlights, then pink Dell covers arrived, and the list goes on.
At the Consumer Products Show in Las Vegas this week, a number of companies will reveal their latest gadgets in options that include pink. Samsung is offering a "mini" model if its point-and-shoot Smart Camera with built-in Wi-Fi called the WB30F in five different colors including plum, lime green and pink. Dell has updated its mainstream Inspiron line in a number of colors that include pink. Nikon is releasing the new addition to its "1" series of compact cameras, the Nikon 1 S1, which will come in four colors including pink. Also, Sony launched a waterproof and wire-free Walkman MP3 player in you guessed it, pink.
In the midst of this pink trend, Apple Inc. is jumping in headfirst. The powerhouse already ditched its white and black-only design on its iPod Touch and started adding color, which proved successful, and now its set to dress up its iPhones. Apple is expected to release the "iPhone 5S" in early summer in colors including yellow and blue and yes, pink, according to Topeka Capital Market's analyst Brian White. What could have ended up as a fleeting trend, "pinkifying technology" has clearly become one of the most successful ways tech companies are winning over women.
Companies know that women have a lot of purchasing power and are buying more electronics than ever before. In fact, last year women actually spent more on technology than men, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. The report said women accounted for $55 billion of the $96 billion spent on electronics gear. Just a few years ago, men were outspending women by nearly 50 percent on electronics, according to the group's 2009 research.
Products that come in pink to appease female consumers aren't exactly new. Toy companies have been doing it for decades, and they do it because it works. After all, it has been a half century since model train maker Lionel introduced the pink Lady Lionel. But are cute and fun colors all women want in their electronics? Is pinkifying tech all it takes to win women over? Maybe for some things, but I don't think just making something pink will automatically lure in women. Take for instance the pink 20" LCD Bravia TV that Sony offered consumers in 2007 for the price of $1000. It didn't exactly fly off the shelves, at least I don't think it did, as I haven't seen it lately.
Tech companies have also started to figure out that women like electronics that are small enough to fit into their lifestyles (and their handbags). Apple realized that women like smaller tablets after watching the Kindle Fire take off among female users. The Kindle Fire, which is about two inches smaller than the iPad, had a 56.6 percent female customer base in the three months ending June 2012, according to a survey of 6,000 tablet owners by Comscore, while the larger iPad only attracted a 47.1 percent female audience. Apple targeted ads toward women for their iPad Mini in the fourth quarter of 2012 and enjoyed a 74 percent sales increase in its fiscal first quarter that ended Dec. 25. Apple also offered smart covers for the Mini in pink, lime and blue, which didn't hurt either.
Other companies are trying to lure women in with what they believe are sexy tag lines, but they may be missing mark. At the CES show, Voco, a voice-control company, put out an ad with a glossy red lipsticked mouth trying to lure in visitors "because oral is better." That tagline probably won't attract the notoriously small amount of female CES attendees to their booth.
Technology companies are working hard to attract women without alienating or talking down to them. Companies experienced in making electronics will tell you that winning over the female consumer is not as easy as just making products pink. However, they are starting to understand what women want out of electronics, and it's not cheesy tag lines. Whether their efforts involve adding colors or redesigning products to fit women's lifestyles, companies that pay attention to the female consumer are hitting the jackpot. And for now, offering pink-colored products seems to be working.