After 40 years in the Electronics industry, we were sad to hear that Dick Selwood would be retiring. This is why I was delighted to receive a guest blog post from Dick looking back as the things he will and won’t miss about the industry. We wish Dick the best of luck for the future, and hope he enjoys his well deserved time off!

 Goodbye Electronics 

Dick at CDNLive in Munich

Standing on the edge of retirement, I am wondering what I will and won’t miss about the electronics biz that I joined almost 40 years ago, firstly inside as a PR person and then, for the last 15 years, primarily as a journalist.

Things like trade shows leave mixed feelings. I loved the buzz of getting an event together and later, the interesting conversations when I was a vising hack. I won’t miss the tramp from one end of the Munich Messe. I won’t miss the poor, newly appointed, PR executives from large PR companies who ring to set up meetings at shows, without knowing what their client is talking about, or even what their stand number is. I won’t miss the press conferences that are only set up because “We always have a press conference at embedded world / electronica/ fill in here”. I won’t miss the marketing robots who start their PowerPoint with the background to the company – in one case a company I had worked for –  and cannot deviate. I will miss those stand meetings where the spokesperson understood what they were talking about and was happy to expand the conversation into a wider context, as they knew that I wasn’t covering news as such but using the event to do a snap-shot of the industry. There are some people where I deliberately set up meetings to get their views on the bigger issues, rather than their current news – Release 4.1 might be great for the people who built it and their existing customers. I have often felt sorry for the PR escort who saw the conversation between me and his spokesman disappearing off into areas that were not on the agenda. I will, however, miss the PR people who are on top of their client and its technology, but know when to step back and let the specialist speak to me, and made sure the client followed up on promises for more material. I particularly admire those individuals who have said, “We have X and Y at the show, but if you are busy, go for X and we will sort something out when Y has something more interesting to say.”  They are doing a better job for Y than the company might appreciate.

I will miss learning about new technology and how it is making an impact on people’s lives. I won’t miss the announcements that make navel-gazing look almost visionary, nor the press releases where you can see where entrenched interests in the company have forced in their opinions (I used to write them -remember). I sympathise with the stress over composing  the opening statements”  –  X, the world leader in pink boxes shipped when there is an R in the month” and in re-writing on a regular basis the corresponding footnote setting out why X is so marvellous. I long ago realised that companies with a stock market quotation have Investor Relations people pushing for a stream of announcements to keep the analysts and the investors happy – it is no longer paper cuts and an over-flowing re-cycling bin, but only a sore finger from pressing delete.

And a familiar cry – I won’t miss the releases from companies who have bought or subscribed to a list of technology journalists, and then blasted out releases of very marginal interest to an electronics specialist (blue tooth barbecue thermometers anyone?). Even worse – since I have been working for a title based in Portland, Oregon, I used to receive regular releases from the US Navy about the achievements of Portland natives in the service and from the organisers of cowboy poetry competitions. These are more than balanced by those professionals who ring/email and say, “I know you ae inserted in safety and security. Would you like to talk to X in advance of their announcement?”

I won’t miss some of the self-opinionated people who would have told God where his designs were wrong.  But I will miss the many interesting people in the industry, who have wider interests, and don’t see the IoT as the most important thing in the world, and these come from all parts of the business

Goodbye electronics – and good luck.


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