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Is Apple to blame for the High Street's struggles?

Ashleigh Allsopp | Feb. 18, 2013
The recent failure of retailers such as HMV, Jessops, Blockbuster, Game, Comet and, and reports suggesting that 600 shops closed last year, have raised the question about what's to blame for the high street's struggles. Apple on the other hand is seeing huge success. What is Apple doing right? And is its success to blame for the failures of others?

Smartphones are threatening the high street

Camera maker Jessops, which collapsed into administration in the same week as HMV and Blockbuster in January, faced a battle with smartphones such as Apple's iPhone as its camera became capable of competing with compact digital cameras.

Apple's iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel iSight camera that can also capture panorama images up to 28 megapixels and 1080p HD video. This combined with the huge variety of iOS photography and video apps, plus the ability to instantly share photos via Twitter, Facebook and email, has made the iPhone the most popular camera in the world, according to Apple.

In November, TIME Magazine used a photograph captured by an iPhone 4S as its cover image, and a photojournalist from the Guardian captured moments from the London 2012 Olympics on his iPhone 4S, proving that even professionals are accepting smartphone photography.

New retail methods winning high street battle

Another feature in the smartphone that is threatening the high street is the ability to scan barcodes while in shops to find out whether there is a cheaper place to buy a product online. This process, commonly referred to as 'showrooming', is becoming more and more popular, with 25 per cent of consumers admitting to using a barcode scanner for this purpose while out in shops in the run up to Christmas, according to The Telegraph.

Online shops such as Amazon have apps with built in barcode scanners to enable potential buyers to pick up a DVD in HMV, for example, and instantly find out how much it would set them back from Amazon in comparison to the price tag it has in the shop. More often than not, Amazon will come up cheaper.

Of the 25 per cent of consumers in the survey conducted by FoolProof, four out of ten said that 'showrooming' resulted in them making their purchases elsewhere. One in five said that they only visited the store to check out a product that they planned to buy online later.

Retailers have also seen a big increase in the time spent in their mobile shopping apps, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry.

Research suggests that consumers spent six times as much time using retailer shopping apps in December 2012 compared to the same period of 2011.

The internet is threatening the high street

All this, and we haven't even started talking about ordinary online shopping yet, which is arguably the biggest factor contributing to the decline of the high street. This, combined with the ease of use of smartphones and tablets, means customers are finding it more convenient, and often cheaper, to shop online.


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