A New Publishing Rhythm and Thoughts on BETT

We’ve just about got back onto our normal publishing rhythm this week, thanks to a huge effort by the team – thanks to them. The CES report was by far the largest report that we have ever produced and the team has also been coping with a new publishing system, just to add to the fun and challenge!

The new system will mean that we will be publishing stories to the web as they are ready, rather than on the weekly cycle that we have used for many years. That’s going to be a challenge, but we will adjust! When we started publishing weekly, we finalised the issue on the Monday. However, that tended to mean that stories were often left because “we can catch up at the weekend”. So, a good number of years ago, we moved to publishing on a Friday. That made for better weekends for everybody and we got into a good routine. For a number of years, we hardly missed a Friday, so it was frustrating to be so late last week. At the moment, the layout process is proceeding, so I hope we don’t hit any problems and can get the issue out today. This article, of course, will have to go through the editing and proofing process, so I’m not certain!

Just to complicate the week, it was the annual BETT show in London. Tom and I went to the show to see what was new and we’ll bring you our report next week. The BETT show is a very good “vertical” event covering educational technology. There are a couple of differences from most of the shows that we go to in the attendees. First, the show is very European and is not dominated by English accents – there are many visitors from different parts of the world – mainly Europe. On the train to the event, the mixture of languages was great (although, as it was in London, which is a very international place, that’s not at all uncommon anyway!).

The other big difference was the number of women, both in the attendees and on the stands. Almost all of the shows that I attend are very engineering and technology-led and, whatever the reasons, are dominated by men. Education, especially early education, is often a job where women dominate, at least in this country (only around 20% of teachers here of children under 11 are men in the UK), so the balance is different in education.

At the NPD event, at CES, Karyn Schoenbart the President and COO of NPD made the point that she welcomed the arrival of wearables as this brought an element of fashion and design to CES that had not been obvious before. She also pointed out that in the US, while the smartwatch market is dominated by male buyers (71%), 54% of fitness trackers are bought by women. It was often said in years gone by that sales of TV were about the “wife acceptance factor”, that they weren’t just bought by men seeking the latest technology, but as items of furniture. The appeal of flat TVs as furniture was a big part of the growth of the TV market in the boom for flat panel TVs.

It does occur to me that the appeal of smartphones and tablets is across “the gender divide”, which would help to explain their success in recent years. I wonder if the whole of the consumer market started to look for products that are as highly valued by women, as by men, maybe there would be better growth prospects? Chris talks in this issue about the Oculus headset. I mentioned that there were long queues to try the headsets at CES, but there weren’t many women in the queue!