Choice – What Choice?

When I was small there was one type of crisp – Ready Salted; two types of bread – pan or plain; a few types of chocolate – Cadburys or Rowantree, Nestle.

Then things changed and we had so many choices we didn’t know what to choose. But it seems that the trend is reversing and we aren’t even noticing. There seems to be thousands of products in the shops but are consumers given the choices they want or are they given the choices retailers want us to have?

Two examples are the two As – Apple and Amazon.

I have resisted buying an iAnything because I hate being tied into one product. I also try to avoid Amazon for the same reasons. I don’t buy stuff at Tesco; I don’t like bullies who tell me what to buy and who use their size to push small independents out of the race. And this avoidance has not been easy because Amazon do make it very easy to buy, too easy. It is most people’s dream to have everything one click away.

And it depresses me. The music and books offered to us by Amazon, supermarkets, TV and Radio are a tiny percentage of what is produced by artists each year. If we continue to accept this our culture will be devalued.

But I hadn’t realized how bad things were until I went shopping for an ebook reader. The market is saturated with Kindles, the Amazon’s ebook readers that uses their own format, forcing you to always purchase books from them.

All reviews I have heard start by describing the Kindle and go on to mention, in passing, that others ebook readers are available.

I was disappointed to find that in both John Lewis and Selfridges, Oxford Street, London, I had to search hard for something other than a Kindle. The Sony and Samsung readers demonstrators were either out of batteries or not connected – there were no others to try.

It was while looking for ebooks that the Apple thing caught my eye. It seems that if you are looking for a smart phone or music player this Christmas, you are going to have to search through the hundreds of models of iPods and iPhones to find any other choice.

Good Luck!

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