The kids are growing up so now we seem to buy fewer presents for each with higher price tags. And it's all about electronics. As of December 23rd, headphones and speakers accounted for 13% of the $8B consumer electronics purchases this season. I did my part, purchasing some decent over the ear headphones for each of my sons. Oh, and a tablet for my wife. My daughter prefers clothing and her annual gift of Ugg boots from Santa. Like I said, the price tags are higher but at least I can be sure that there won't be another box of discarded toys sitting in my garage waiting for the spring trip to Goodwill.
My big present from the whole family was a Blu Ray Home Theater Surround Sound System. I'd been saving up my rock 'n roll band earnings to replace the last blown out system but at the rate I was going, I wouldn't have a new one until May of 2016. All my other gifts were from REI including an intriguing BioLite Campstove for my planned Colorado Trail llama trekking experience. All Christmas Day, I had to suppress the desire to abandon our guests and sneak out to my patch of forest to tinker with my it.
We spent the whole day being amazed at and discussing the innovative features of our gifts. The campstove burns twigs for cooking and stores electricity as a byproduct to charge you phone and GPS. The headphones have interchangeable parts so that you can customize them to your preferences. Completely wireless surround systems are still priced way out of my reach but my new system does feature wireless connectivity to the two back speakers, eliminating those two wires that used to travel along the wall and snake up over the mantle and front door to establish a complete surround sound experience. The tablet has stylus that intuitively helps convert notes to text.
Oracle has been a technology innovator for decades. This year I was privileged to learn more about how Oracle customers in all life stages leverage our solutions to continually innovate. Young and emerging companies like Kind Snacks (the dark chocolate/cherry cashew bar is my favorite), Yelp (my first iPhone app purchase), and Twitter (my first tweet was in 2013). Established midsize companies like MedicAlert, Trex (I just bought some of their Elevations products to shore up a section of old deck). Be the Match (I'm registered), and Radio Flyer (a prized childhood Christmas gift). And larger companies that first implemented when they were small like LinkedIn (my profile is All Star level), Treasury Wine Estates (I prefer bourbon but always a great gift for my wife), and Garmin (Santa slipped a nüvi® in my wife's stocking this year).
Increasingly, conversations with customers like these are focusing less on individual applications and more on establishing a comprehensive platform for growth and innovation. I'm sure I'll be writing a lot about that concept in 2014.