Companies seek out college customers

By David Valdes

On a campus rich with old-fashioned traditions and architecture, the student population introduces a taste of modern technology. From USB Jump Drives to camera phones, students are staying current with technology that helps make life a little more easy and fun. Although college students are known for pinching pennies, the National Center for Education Statistics states that more than 15 million U.S. college and university students spend well over $200 billion annually. Marketing executives for popular gadgets have nothing to lose by marketing to college students.

The Apple iPod is growing in popularity on campus. The sleek, small music device holds hours of music transferred to it directly from one’s PC or Macintosh.

The Mac News Network states that 336,000 iPods were sold this financial quarter – a 140 percent increase from last quarter. Students at the University attest to why iPods are in high demand.

“Long walks to class and working out are a lot more bearable when you’re listening to music,” said Kristina Filippello, a freshman in LAS.

The iPod is a prime example of good technology selling itself. Its expensive retail price of more than $250 has not stopped college students from buying. However, other products have fallen prey to high prices with low returns. According to, a popular technology news Web site, Pocket PCs were too pricey for college students – their primary market – with an average price of between $800 and $1000.

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Though cell phones are not cheap and monthly bills must be taken into account, they are practical and useful.

“I always use my cell phone while I’m walking to class,” said Juliana Arsoniadis, a freshman in LAS. “And thanks to Nextel, everyone can hear my conversations followed by that annoying ‘beep-beep.'”

Arsoniadis is referring to the Nextel DirectConnect feature that many students use to communicate, free of charge.

Many cell phone companies have capitalized on the idea of pairing a cell phone with a camera. The camera phone, used to capture impromptu pictures, is another one of the University’s most popular gadgets.

Freshman in LAS, Brittany Bekas, said she noticed a trend.

“When I’m out, I see a lot of guys using camera phones. I guess it’s more common for them to take a picture with their phones than with an actual camera,” she said.

Even Time Magazine recognized camera phones as a runner up in its “Coolest Inventions 2003” edition.

University students are also becoming more familiar with the USB Jump Drive. The device is as small as a key chain and holds computer files.

The USB Jump Drive might eventually replace the floppy disk and the CD because it holds up to two gigabytes, compared to a CD’s 700 megabytes. However, some of the products’ skeptics doubt their usefulness.

“On campus, portable USB drives are pretty unnecessary because of (CITES Netfiles), but they are efficient for big transfers,” said sophomore in FAA, Alex Grandpre.

Laptops sit atop many University students’ desks and often become the center of their lives.

According to Horizon Media Research, “82.9 percent of all first-year college students have used the Internet for research and/or homework.” E-mail, Internet access, AOL Instant Messenger and – an informal student database frequented by a growing network of students – are just a few of the reasons University students cling so protectively to their laptops. Some do not even bother to turn it off for fear of not having its services at a moment’s notice.

“I’ve always got my laptop on. I think it’s about ready to break,” Nick Bisby, freshman in engineering, explained. “I usually use it for looking up (guitar) tabs and chatting – and sometimes I do homework.”