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A New Generation of Gifts


A few months ago, I wrote an article on the history of some toys which were available when I was growing up. Taking this concept one step further, I did a little digging into a more recent history of things under the Christmas tree and how intricate their marketing and sales concepts are.


How many remember the craze, seven years ago, when Baby Shark was introduced to us for a mere $19.99? Like most pop-culture obsessions, the song's colossal impact, transitioned to physical products. How many of you cannot get that darn song out of your head?

2009 was the year we saw the launch of the Angry Birds game, which retailed for around $5. Angry Birds remains the franchise to beat, and even though it has lost a little momentum, it is still going strong. Besides the video game itself, there is a TV series, a feature film and a range of plush toys sold in the millions.

Who can live without an iPad or tablet of some sort? I find it hard to believe the iPad is celebrating its 13th anniversary this year. When it was first launched, it sold for around $500. Now, depending on which version you want, you can go as high as $1500.

Apple quickly found its niche in the realm between laptops and cell phones. A million iPads sold within the first month. iPads became a household word, and when Microsoft launched their Surface Pro (an equivalent tablet), and struck a deal with the NFL to use Surface Pros, the announcers continually referred to them as iPads on national TV. What great, free advertising.

In 2006, Nintendo burst back onto the video game scene with the release of the Nintendo Wii, delivering bubbly graphics, a personalized ecosystem, and handheld motion controllers for a friendlier and more interactive approach. At only $250, skyrocketing sales and popular awards let Nintendo know they had a qualified hit on their hands.

The year before, Microsoft changed the playing field with the Xbox 360, touting improvements on every front. Along with enhanced internet connectivity, Xbox 360 would sell more than 77 million units over the next eight years.

Not to be outdone, Sony developed its own product, known as the PlayStation, which came out in the mid-1990s. It was the PlayStation 2 which cemented Sony's status as the veritable king of home entertainment. The console took in $250 million on the first day alone. Selling out quickly, because of manufacturing delays, the product fetched extremely high numbers on the second-hand market. Gaming has never been quite the same since.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, 'Jonathan van Bilsen's photosNtravel', on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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