Feature Article

September 30, 2015

How the Selfie Stick Became an Unlikely Success Story

“What is that?”

“That looks absolutely ridiculous.”

“Under no circumstances would I ever buy one of those.”

If you’ve ever been around someone the first time they saw a selfie stick, you’ve likely heard statements like these. However, the critic in question very well may have purchased his or her own selfie stick only a few days later. That’s sort of the buying cycle for consumers: confusion, intrigue, purchase. For all the success these hot products have experienced, selfie sticks faced a major uphill battle to become an unlikely success story.

Selfie Sticks: A Brief History

Front-facing cell phone cameras are a fairly recent phenomenon, but with them, the selfie has become a widespread phenomenon on its own – even going so far as to be named “The Greatest Innovation of 2014” by TIME.

The selfie stick in its current iteration was designed for these front-facing smartphone cameras, but the technology has actually been around for decades. In the 1980s, two Japanese inventors named Hiroshi Ueda and Yujiro Mima patented a “telescopic extender for supporting [a] compact camera.” Designed for a small camera, the “extender stick” used a tripod screw to attach to the camera.

The patent ran out in 2003, but another inventor rose to the challenge in 2005. Wayne Fromm created the “Quik Pod,” designed to support a camera in much the same way. Today, both Ueda and Fromm feel their inventions were before their time. Fromm even claims that the Quik Pod directly preceded the current version of the selfie stick, and has sued other product developers for copyright infringement in the process.

Whether or not Fromm invented the device (as we know it) is debatable; even if he does hold creator rights, other companies can still create and distribute selfie sticks. Fromm’s lawsuit certainly hasn’t stopped other retailers from creating their own highly popular selfie sticks and other smartphone accessories designed to make selfie-taking fun and easy. If anything, other retailers have made the selfie experience more customizable than ever before, especially with the release of the Bluetooth selfie stick.

What Made the Selfie Stick – Well, Stick?

Those who roll their eyes at the product all have one opinion in common: it’s not cool, and it’s borderline narcissistic. Naysayers believe people who use selfie sticks look silly and self-absorbed, but the product is still flying off shelves all over the world. The popularity of the selfie stick can be attributed to two basic factors:

  • Price. They are highly affordable, with a high quality selfie stick that works with Bluetooth retailing for as little as $30.
     
  • Value proposition. When a person posts a photo taken with a selfie stick online, the average onlooker will see a better selfie. In the world of social media, selfies carry massive clout. Better selfies mean more likes, and more likes mean social proof of credibility.
     

Other Benefits

Selfie stick technology is highly conducive to add-on features and other complimentary products. While the basic selfie stick will allow users to take group photos with ease or capture images that would otherwise be dangerous or difficult (for example, taking a skydiving selfie), other accessories can improve the selfie quality. You can find either a wired or a selfie stick that works with bluetooth, as well as wide-eye lenses, LED-flash lights, or portable charging sticks to enhance the selfie-taking experience. These items are usually compatible with any phone that has a self-facing camera.

With worldwide popularity still on the rise, it’s goodbye to the grainy bathroom self-portrait and hello to the selfie stick. Say cheese!




Edited by Kyle Piscioniere


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