The signs of the holidays are all around us: my teenagers have started listening to the local holiday music station, people are bundling up in anticipation of the snow that will soon be upon us, and theWall Street Journal is reporting on the expected sales of TVs at WalMart this Black Friday.
Aside from the economy, I'm following holiday shopping results because of the humble little devices we call connected TVs. CES 2009 featured many a promise from major TV makers – they assured us that connected TVs were finally ready to rock. Based on that, we estimated that a million of these TVs would be in US homes by the end of the year. In fact, if all the promises were kept, these million would be an easy sell because they would have fancy widget experiences just like the iPhone. Plus, we were assured the technology would get better every day so that accessing Internet content on the TV would feel as natural as switching from Dancing with the Stars to House (an activity I encourage).
This is not the time to go into my disappointment at the failure of some of those TVs to even arrive, much less the less-than-iPhone-like widget experiences they have delivered so far. Instead, in the spirit of technology denial, I’d rather focus on the fact that even if these TVs could do everything we hoped, somebody still has to sell them at retail. No, I'm not concerned we won't hit the million mark. Instead, I'm concerned that we'll have a million or more out there, but that fewer than 40% of them will actually connect to the Internet.
What is interesting in the current scramble for the killer online music business model is that there is an implicit assumption that the only place people would want to go from the CD is online or mobile.The iPod heralded a new paradigm in music consumption, but it has done little to counter the impact of the CD's terminal decline and may even have helped accelerate it.
As things currently stand, the mass market music consumer isn’t being catered to with any form of new product and the fight for these consumers’ living room is being lost.It wasn't too long ago that the home hi-fi system was the flagship piece of living-room technology but over the past decade, living-room tech spending has shifted firmly to the TV while the aging home hi-fi system is either gathering dust or has been replaced by a docking station. (The latter of which is an awkward attempt to make a personal device a household device, and besides, the majority of households don’t even have one).