Michael Stein: Best Case Scenario: Adaptation
CustomRetailer: In your opinion, when did we first start to feel the rumblings of a change in the CI industry?
Michael Stein: That's an impossible question to answer. I liken the situation to putting a frog in cold water and slowly heating it up. By the time the frog realizes the water's hot you've got a bowl of soup.
It isn't really a matter of when, but of how fast. The pace of change is accelerating all the time. Each new technology is built on all the technologies that came before it. The overall pace of change is now so fast that we can measure it in years and decades instead of centuries and millennia.
Let's examine a short timeline: in 1989 the WWW is theorized. In 1995, the WWW moves from a handful of geeks to the first commercial browser and Netscape is born. Ten years later, Napster is launched, opening the gates to tens of billions of songs being traded online. The new millennium saw the introduction of the iPod, which some people forget was originally launched as a Mac exclusive. Today, iTunes is the second largest music retailer and close to 200 million iPods have been sold.
Mobile communications has taken a similar path—billions of handsets are in daily use. These are quickly being replaced with Web-connected smartphones.
Any one of these milestones could be the trigger for change in the CE industry, or it could be all of them. CI in particular is bound to be heavily affected by trends in mobile communications and entertainment. Consumers are becoming accustomed to streaming audio from their phones and portable players to their homes. Looking ahead, these same consumers will expect to be able to control their homes with their mobile devices. Most importantly, the benchmarks of speed, access to content, and UI experienced with their mobile devices will color their perception of and appreciation for CI installation.