Monday, May 30, 2011

On My Mind: The Chinese Dim Sum/Yum Cha Barometer

Someone had mentioned this to me earlier (hi Brian, if you're reading this), and it's a fascinating observation about Dim Sum (Yum Cha) and video games.

I'm going to assume you're lazy and didn't click on the link above, so a quick description of what Yum Cha is: basically it's a chinese meal that's the equivalent of anywhere from a brunch to a late lunch. Usually it's a decent size of family/friends gathering where families bring their kids along, where the adults would talk, and the kids would entertain themselves with whatever way they like, which usually means video games.

When I was growing up, it always had my Game Boy along with me, and it's definitely not an uncommon sight to see kids everywhere do that. As systems got more advance, the kids all upgraded with them. It's interesting to observe that this was probably a really good barometer on where the market is in the portable space. It's not perfect (it's probably a lagging indicator, and targeted more towards kids), but in hindsight, fairly accurate.

There are two general observations I want to share: one as a retrospective, and another as a current trend:

1. Back in 2004/2005, when no one was exactly sure how the DS/PSP race was going to fold, the Dim Sum vote was: PSP. While the younger kids were still on their DSes' with Pokemon, the slightly older kids all upgraded to PSPs. However, within a year's time, all the kids did upgrade, to DS. It's not hard to see a restaurant where every table has at least one kid that is on the DS.

2. If you go to a weekend Dim Sum lunch, you'll still find plenty of DS. But more interesting is seeing kids with their own (or their parent's) iPhone/iPods. PSPs are definitely nowhere to be found anymore, but also interesting to observe is that the 3DS hasn't quite taken hold yet. Maybe it's too early to make a gut call on this, but somewhere deep at Nintendo HQ, they should be worried.

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