INTERNATIONAL CHESS MASTER Gary Kasparov’s loss to the computer Deep Blue in 1997 was a benchmark for computing. It was the first time a computer beat a reigning human world chess champion. At the time, Deep Blue was the 259th most powerful computer on earth. Today, the raw computing power of Deep Blue can be matched in almost any off-the-shelf personal computer.
Computer technology may be the most quickly advancing market, which means the wealth of computer-related promotional items is ever increasing.
For consumers and end-users, processing speed and capacity aren’t the only factors driving demand. Style and design come sharply into play. Consider the iPod explosion. “MP3 player” and “iPod” are almost synonymous in the United States, even though iPods are far from the cheapest or highest capacity music machines on the market. What iPod offers is sleek presentation and countless marketing dollars. Distributors can take advantage of Apple’s hard work.
“Anything iPod-related is selling,” said Daniel Oas, CEO of Calibre International, Irwindale, Calif. Calibre’s line includes a crank-powered flashlight that charges an iPod as well as speakers for MP3 players. Oas said both items are selling well. “I’d say, right now Apple is the hot thing,” he commented. Oas also noted the popularity of “smooth iPod white.” One item in Calibre International’s line is a USB-powered mood light, finished in sleek, white plastic.
Beyond design, the proper balance between utility and cost is key. Currently, Calibre International’s most popular tech item is a star-shaped USB hub which Oas said is successful, chiefly because it is inexpensive and works well. Harris Cohen, founder and president of All-In-One Manufacturing, San Diego, also stressed the importance of finding balance in tech promotions. “We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “You’ve got the promotional products business merging into the high-tech market and it’s a different game there because the items are not one-dollar pens.” All-In-One Manufacturing’s tech line focuses on high-end accessories, especially memory.