Attitudes from the Editor
This was a year marked by worry and hope, both on the retail business side and the human side. While tech corporate executives fell like old paradigms and tech companies continued to send their workers home with their last paychecks and a thank you, many consumer electronics retailers returned healty profits. So the question is, where is technology going?
Perhaps a look at current trade shows reveals a trend. COMDEX, by most accounts, was a bust this year. A sign of the economy or a sign of where the money is in technology? CEDIA, which will be moving back to Indianapolis next year, was a leaping success. There weren't many major technology breakthroughs, but there is a huge growth in people's desire to bring high-tech entertainment into their homes, yet integrate it in a very human way. CES next month is also expected to be bigger than ever, and like CEDIA, focused on lifestyle technology. COMDEX for many years seemed to produce a lot of technology for its own sake as well as corporate tech solution. Of course corporate pockets have shrunk, choosing to make-do rather than invest in risk. At home however, technologies like home theater, video gaming, wireless communications and memory sharing (digital imaging) are rocking. The industries that come up with better ways to allow us to do what we like to do: interact with each other and enjoy our time, are the ones that are finding success. As Gary Shapiro noted a couple of weeks ago during a pre-CES press reception, that our industry makes the things that bring people together.
So as a retailer how do you get that message across to your customers. Are you selling technology, gadgets and machines, or are you selling the products that enhance people's lifestyle? How else can you explain the success of LCD televisions? When a friend asked me why someone would pay $1,500 for a 15-inch TV, I told him people buy them because the products fill a need. The ecomony is still down, but there's still money and people willing to spend it if the right products come along. As a manufacturer are you listening to what the people want? Think of all the innovative products announced at CES or COMDEXs of the past that went nowhere because they didn't fit any consumers' lifestyle. I could name several from last year's CES alone.