Converging to What?
The goal should be that consumers converge on your business
By Robert Ain
This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was all abuzz—but not about the latest plasma displays or digital cameras.
The buzz was all about converging media into one form or another. Of course, the big "convergence" for the manufacturers is the money that might be spent on their hardware, software and services.
What did all of this hype really mean for the custom retailer? At present, not very much. Consumers are not looking at convergence as the be-all or end-all for their media needs.
It's easy to forget one key point in the midst of all of the technobabble, hype and gesticulating digerati at CES: Consumers are not buying technology for technology's sake.
Take HDTVs. Most consumers don't buy new TVs because of high-definition technology. For years, consumers didn't buy HD set-top boxes, so they couldn't watch HD over the air and didn't seem to notice anyway.
They were (and are) buying flat panels and big-screen microdisplays because these sets are larger, neater and thinner than ever seen before. I contend they're not buying HD, but rather all of the other neat aspects of plasmas and LCDs.
Want more proof? How about DVD players. They're not HD (save for the "upconverting" models that fudge true HD), but consumers think the picture is great. The DVD players with HD-level scalers are certainly not driving the DVD market. Customers look at DVD performance through a plasma panel and go "WOW." They don't think, "But it's only 480p." They are not saying, "If only it were 1080p, I'd really want to buy it."
Want even more evidence? How about the product that the CEDIA channel has reluctantly but enthusiastically embraced, largely because it had no other choice: the iPod. The real tech-heads know that Apple didn't create the portable music player category. I have one of the original Evolution players with a 64MB memory card. It wasn't a very big seller. Why? It was difficult to use, and not the best in terms of performance.