The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Investing/Strategies / Bonds & Fixed Income Investments


Subject:  Re: OT: Man in the White Suit Date:  2/16/2009  8:07 AM
Author:  Goofyhoofy Number:  25981 of 35593

I remember trying to explain digital cameras to my late father-in-law, who couldn't understand how anyone would make money (this was before the craze among teens and preens sending self-porno over cell phones). My answer was, and is, once people decide they don't need a hard copy, there will be little money to be made once the camera is bought.

Ah, but that's because you were following the same logic you posted earlier, that things don't keep expanding. "Faith based", I think you called it.

So here's what really happened. People stopped using traditional cameras and started using digital ones. That meant manufacture of a new kind of camera, which meant everybody needed to replace their cameras, not just those that got dropped or broken. The meant a huge new market instead of just "a replacement market." It also meant new kinds of memory: sticks, cards, internal chips. It meant more emphasis on miniaturization, which employed engineers and designers all over the world. And, obviously, it meant the construction of new plants to manufacture and assemble the cameras, new plants to produce and ship the chips, and gave business to shipping companies and exporters and importers far in excess of what "the replacement SLR market" would have been.

But wait! As the TV commercial says, there's more! As Mark has pointed out, it spawned entirely new lines of inkjet printers, which would be unnecessary if we were only printing out black and white text. It means sales of color inkjet cartridges, and now whole businesses which do nothing but refill inkjet cartridges. Paper mills had to invent new kinds of paper which consumers can use to print their photos, and office supply stores have a new product on their shelves which existed only for a select few (professional or serious amateur photographers) previously.

But wait! There's more! The "manipulating photo business" exploded, so now there are Silicon Valley corporations which produce software so regular people like you and me can alter our pictures. Photoshop and imitators, for instance. Previously this art was limited to a paltry few gurus with airbrushes and erasers, it's now a billion dollar industry.

Think I'm done? Not by a long shot. The number of "cameras" is a jillion times higher than before. Where a household might have had one or two, now it probably has a half dozen. Some are "cameras", and some are "cellphones with cameras" and some are "computers with cameras" and some are "security systems with cameras" and so on. Every time somebody sends one of those pictures somewhere, there's a bandwidth charge that your cable company or telephone c