The Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday, a phenomenon first named in 2005 when retailers noticed a big bump in online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It was attributed to the fact that people were back at work, where they had high-speed connections instead of the dialup at mom's. According to The New York Times in 2005:
Little was accomplished at the office as the number of workers who shopped online jumped to 15 million from 11.1 million in 2004. Cyber Monday "is actually taking place," said Tom Burke, vice president of Barnesandnoble.com, which, along with Staples, said sales on Monday were the biggest this holiday season. "We are just finally putting a moniker on it."
It's very different now; almost everyone has a high-speed connection in the palm of their hands. And even though President Donald Trump once said "Now the cyber is so big," Cyber Monday is now little more than a marketing ploy, as relevant as the outdated prefix cyber that has been militarized but is passé everywhere else. Everyone can get everything they want when they want it, thanks to the smartphone revolution. According to Nanette Byrnes, writing in the MIT Technology Review, we now have “Black November” as people search for bargains all month:
Black November got a kick-start a few years ago when Amazon began offering special discounts well before Thanksgiving. It continued this year with Amazon launching Black Friday discounts every five minutes starting the Friday before Thanksgiving…. While Cyber Monday will indeed be the single biggest shopping day of the year online, the week before has become even bigger.
This is due, in part, to our phones; nobody has to wait to get to the office on Monday morning. In the Guardian, John Naughton looks at how the 2007 introduction of the iPhone changed everything:
The iPhone was the first real smartphone and it changed the world because it changed the way people connected to the net. It began the inexorable drift away from desktop and laptop computers as our gateways to the internet. In the next 10 years or so, another 5 billion of our fellow citizens will get internet connectivity, and almost all of them will acquire it via a smartphone. Which means that – as network infrastructure improves – people will be online for most of their waking lives. For many this will be a great boon. But it also means that they will be connecting via closed, tightly controlled devices with no user-modifiable components. And this in turn implies consolidation of the power of the companies that make the devices and provide the connectivity.
Indeed, over half of our readers are getting their MNN through their smartphones. And plenty of our readers come to the site through Facebook, another one of those big consolidators of power. The average time our readers stay on a post is less than 30 seconds, meaning they're probably getting less than a paragraph into it. I could stop writing this post now and only 10 percent of those who started it might notice.
The blog form as we know it is in trouble, as are the computers like the one this post is being written on. Four and a half years ago, I asked another blogger for advice on buying a new Mac, and he told me “buy the best they have, get the full three-year AppleCare and then do it again in three years.” He and I both waited to see what the new MacBooks would offer and really, they don’t offer much at all that's an improvement over what we both still have. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for my iPhone 7+ to arrive. (They are so back-ordered that I may not get it until January.)
I suspect that when the numbers come in for Cyber Monday sales, they will not be dramatic; in the online world, every day is Cyber Monday. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a year or two this site and sister site TreeHugger look very different than they do now, as we write for phones instead of computers — meaning short bites instead of long posts. And I'm almost certain that we will all be reading, writing and probably dictating them as mini-podcasts on our phones. Cyber Monday, traditional blogs and traditional computers are all being challenged by that always-connected computer in your pocket.