‘Connected Lifestyle’ Panel Probes App RevolutionJune 26, 2011 By Nancy Klosek
Kirchman, who works for a supplier of modems and routers, said her company, too, “has had to move to becoming a solutions manufacturer. Our new products need to be as flexible as possible – they are not just simple modems but gateways,” and their role in the connectivity chain will become more crucial “as more and more devices come onto the network. We have to ensure that the consumer has a good experience. What works for us is teaching consumers how to use our products through how-tos and YouTube videos. What’s important is giving people informational content that solves a problem and doesn’t try to spin them.”
Stoerger, representing the only audio equipment supplier on the panel, came at the discussion from a CE perspective. “ADA is the evolving dinosaur in this room,” he observed. “It used to be about content, but now it’s about content delivery. Control, for me, is a moving target that has evolved over time, from rotary dimmers to touchscreens to the iPad. We have to realize that for the high-end customer, the user interface begins as a toy and then evolves to a method by which to create a necessary function. We are on the bleeding edge of these technologies, and have a very talented engineering team. But my goal is to make sure we stay true to our core values of high performance while making sure we can play with all those cool widgets.” Stoerger said that while he sees the content delivery aspect of the market as “as speedy train,” there is ample opportunity in the market to cultivate an appreciation among connectivity hounds for high-fidelity music reproduction. “I do think solutions like iPad will continue to rule – at least until we telepathically control things,” he said.
All participants said they value the input of their dealers and end-users in product development and design. “We engage customers in actual development of new products,” said Iommi. “Dealers love to feel special; face time with them means everything. And we always have comments we read thoroughly from people who buy apps, ” added Bergman. “We constantly monitor what people are saying,” said Kirchman, “and spend time doing a lot of research. We’re always polling our end-user base and carrying what we discover through to our product roadmaps.”
Stoerger added, “I am having more dialogue with customers than I ever did before. Most manufacturers, unless their stuff sucks, enjoy the one-on-ones with individual customers who have bought their gear. It’s a very new dynamic, and one we didn’t have 10 years ago.”