Technology in the Age of Recession
Christensen: I’m a software engineer and I focus on the user interface; how people interact with things. The problem with interfaces that are not intuitive is that consumers don’t care about underlying technologies. Underlying technologies need to become assumptive, so that a consumer can look at a product and say, ‘I expect that this is what it will do.’ Yahoo! Widgets for TVs that are coming onto the market are an example of the transition of assumptive technology. We had to wait for that paradigm to pass through the computer world first to the world of the TV, and now it has.
The question is now how retailers can communicate what a TV can do. There are so many ways a consumer can interact with the TV. How they end up interacting will need to be resolved.
Cole: We’ve always focused on two-channel; it’s a profit center. Now, we promote it as a “home improvement.” I also evangelize on the two generations: the one that grew up with instant music that sounds like crap and they don’t know what sounds good, and the ones who grew up with “my first hi-fi,” vinyl and big speakers, who are playing the same six CDs over and over again. You need to take those two populations and introduce both generations to whole-house music and the choice of 5,000 songs at the touch of a button, and demonstrate the technology to make those 5,000 songs sound really good. Most people are too busy to sit in a listening area in their home, so you need to bring the music to them in whatever rooms they spend the most time in. My best speakers are in my kitchen.