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Beyond Pink: Women & Electronics

pink electronics womenBlue is for boys and pink is for girls. My first bike was navy blue, I told my dad it was a ‘boys’ bike, but hey, my sister had one two, so in our house this rule did not apply. Actually my mom discouraged the use of pink with us, she thought it was tacky. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing hot pink tights as I type this post… but why is it that marketers think if they just spray paint an object pink, it will appeal to the female market?

In 2004, ‘women represent more than $55 billion worth of sales to the consumer electronics industry and influence roughly 75% of all purchases’. I know I have a ton of gadgets and electronic bits all around my house. (no big surprise coming from a blogger) I also have a tool set too. I also know many women who have the final say as to which TV goes in the living room.

If this is the case, then why do most electronics look like they were designed for a dude who probably has a black leather sofa and glass coffee table in the living room? Probably because the industrial design industry is dominated by men. (I shall tread lightly on this topic, as my boyfriend is an industrial designer… we have a white fabric sofa) And we all know men have no idea what we want.

Which is why Vivienne Tam is looking to branch out to consumer electronics, below is an concept of an MP3 player co-designed with Kitman Keung, my first thought was, ‘Thank god it’s not pink.’

I really like the organic form and the glossiness of the rendering, but I’m not sure how big it is, except that it’s designed to hold 8GB.

First of all, I want to applaud this effort to appeal to women through careful thought, not via patronization. Secondly, I’m left with lots of mixed emotions because the the temporary nature of electronics. My cell phone is only a year old, and I already want a new one. People are always buying iPods because they run out of memory, or because the battery breaks down. Electronics are not biodegradable... in the US they amount to 70% of toxic waste. Combining the trendiness of fashion with electronics can’t be good. I would wear a dress from 1978. I wouldn’t use a computer from 1978, I don’t even know if it would fit in my apartment, or even hold one of the images used in this post.

If I were to write an open letter to industrial designers (like they read this blog) about what I want out of my electronic devices, I’d tell them this.

  1. Please no more pink, I want beautiful sophisticated products.
  2. Intuitive design… you know ‘women’s intuition?’ I don’t like to figure stuff out.
  3. Make them so they last more than a few years. Come on, it’s better for the planet. Why is it more expensive to repair or replace parts than to buy the whole thing new?
  4. Form & function. The reason why I have never got into the whole walkman-iPod thing is because headphones are so ugly. I can’t walk down the streets with wires coming out of my ears!

And also, last but not least, try to find classic design rather than following trends. Something useful I can cherish. I read more women would rather get a high definition, flat panel, big screen TV than a one carat diamond ring for the holidays. Actually, I don’t know who those women are… I just read it somewhere.

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15 comments for “Beyond Pink: Women & Electronics”

  1. i agree with this post.

    Posted by Jayla | November 27, 2007, 4:02 pm
  2. if they made products last longer, they would loer their profits.

    Posted by Hailey | November 27, 2007, 6:56 pm
  3. yeah… i was thinking that about profits too… but eco-friendly solutions keep popping up without cutting into profits, and sometimes increasing them… i don’t know why this isn’t infiltrating the consumer electronics industry.

    Posted by jennine | November 27, 2007, 6:59 pm
  4. I adore that new mp3 player, so cute!

    Posted by Chic and Charming | November 27, 2007, 8:11 pm
  5. Ha ha! You probably couldn’t fit a computer from 1978 in your home. I will try to dig up an old photo of my dad with a computer that took up a whole wall.

    Posted by WendyB | November 27, 2007, 9:13 pm
  6. oh yeah, my dad worked with computers in the 70’s… he always jokes about how my ipod can hold more information than one computer that took up an office building floor.

    Posted by jennine | November 28, 2007, 12:35 am
  7. http://www.littlepinktools.com/

    I thought I posted a long comment, so this is the short version:
    I like retro looking or actual vintage electronics, ie. the white space age-iness of the apple products, wood grain, black! I have an imac and was so in love with the clear acrylic on it (lucite freak!), I’m glad I have that one and not the new one with the silver metal crap. My first bike was a metallic dark blue Schwinn. Second bike was a blue ten speed. Now I have a white vintage Peugeot. Wow this turned long!

    Posted by CuteMess | November 28, 2007, 1:31 pm
  8. I refused to buy another iPod after mine died two weeks after the warranty ended (ie: 54 weeks.) The ‘geniuses’ at the Apple store let me know ‘there is no Apple supported repair option.’ Oh, but I could get 10% off a new one.

    I’ve had a Sansa mp3 player for 2 years now that was cheaper than a shuffle, holds more music than one, and at least won’t need to be replaced every 52 weeks.

    I ride the bus too much not to have an mp3 player.

    Posted by ambika | November 28, 2007, 3:19 pm
  9. i wish i had a white pugeot or a bianci!


    soo… ambika… i know! what is that? i hate the fact that it seems that electronics are timed to self distruct after the warranty runs out. you aren’t the only one who this has happened to either. i don’t understand why they cant desing endurable casing and replacable/upgradable parts. it seems so wasteful…

    Posted by jennine | November 28, 2007, 3:27 pm
  10. Actually my iPod mini is almost 4 years old, it works just fine and I don’t want to buy a new one, in fact I even like the design already outdated :-)
    As for computers, I had an horrendous acer laptop which after 2 years had the cover broken. And I used it with great care! Then I switched to Mac and it was Heaven, I used an iBook for 5 years, never had problems and now I could even resell it to my bf’s sister, so it didn’t go to waste. I just bought the new MacBook. As for my experience, Mac is a great buy.
    Oh, and my Panasonic 16:9 tv which is 7 yrs old, my bf would like a newer one but I RESIST! :-))


    Posted by Raffy | November 28, 2007, 3:46 pm
  11. Actually, I would just like to see more good design, period, and not design that seems to be gendered or targeted to women vs men. Whether you love or hate the whole mac/ipod thing, you have to admit that the stuff LOOKS beautiful and has total unisex appeal. Unlike most “woman-targeted” stuff, which has to be pink, curvaceous, and generally look like a vibrator. A great case in point (although slightly off-topic) is men’s vs women’s razors. There is no appreciable technological difference between the manly, black, digital-age-looking Schick Quattro and the pink, curvy women’s version, but the women’s replacement cartridges are a lot more expensive. And guess what? The “men’s” cartridges work perfectly in the “women’s” razor.

    Obviously, gender-targeted marketing and design is an issue close to my heart.

    Posted by Maven | November 28, 2007, 4:11 pm
  12. just so you know… industrial designers do read your blog. i am one! and yes i agree with you 100% about how insane it is that we go through electronics like water sometimes… but of course as you probably know this is being made aware to all industrial designers and so we are going green slowly but surely…

    Posted by Kathryn Elyse Rodgers | November 30, 2007, 12:21 am
  13. it’s nice to know this post isn’t falling on deaf ears!

    thanks for commenting!

    Posted by jennine | November 30, 2007, 2:52 pm
  14. By the way, I hate those pink oh so cute gadgets too :-)

    Posted by Raffy | December 1, 2007, 5:32 am
  15. sometimes the pink electronics come because the breast cancer proceeds and it’s scary but there really are women/girls out there that really like pink like that.

    the vivenne tam MP3 player is gorgeous! but i see myself snapping it w/in 30 days.

    but i do think more companies need to work on a trade in/recycling program for electronics. its true, esp with cell phones that you can never have a new one.

    Posted by Candid Cool | December 2, 2007, 9:43 pm

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