Why Radio Shack is dying: Nobody needs what it sells anymore
Thirty years ago at the dawn of the mobile phone age, the Harvard Business Review wrote that Your Office is Where You Are. We have been watching how our work has been dematerializing to the point where we joke that Your Office Is In Your Pants.
According to Moody's, via CNN, Radio Shack's days are numbered. It's now a penny stock and doesn't even have enough cash to close the 1100 stores it wants to shutter as part of its turnaround plan.
"They have been irrelevant for a long time," said Robin Lewis, CEO of The Robin Report, a retail strategy newsletter. "If they're not the sickest patient in ICU, they're minutes away from being rolled in."
As a teenager, Radio Shack was my second home, my source for resistors and connectors and stuff for electronics projects, or cables for my stereo. I bought my second computer, a Trash 80, there. Now what is left of it in Canada was renamed and sold off to the phone company. In the States it is essentially selling phones and tablets now.
In our posts talking about living with less, I have often noted that we need a lot less space for our entertainment and our electronics now, as our TVs go flat (or disappear altogether as people watch Netflix instead) Our music goes into our phones and our desktop computers turn into notebooks or even tablets. How we have gone beyond "Your office is where you are" to "your office is in your pants"- just about everything a lot of people need to work these days can be done on your phone. But really, you can put a whole Radio Shack in your pocket.
The issue was highlighted in this ad from 1991 found by Steve Cichon, a writer and "retired" radio newsman in Buffalo, NY. He points out in Huffington Post that just about every single thing in this ad can now be done on a smart phone. The only exceptions are a big subwoofer and a fuzzbuster. Furthermore, you would have spent $ 3054.82 in 1991 dollars to buy it all, and needed a fair amount of real estate to house it all, and the ad doesn't even have a monster rear projection TV filling up space.
The smart phone is changing the way we live, the amount of space we need, the way we occupy it, and the way we get around. I once again quote my favorite tweet ever from Taras Grescoe:
Taras Grescoe/Screen capture