That shift is also changing how and what specialty dealers sell.
"We're used to selling to community, but this sense of community is really going away," Howe said, noting that her son's idea of "communal listening" is to take the iPod earbud out of his own ear and put it into a friend's. "The whole thing about home theater is it's a communal experience. I don't know if it will come back to being that."
iPads, other tablets and mobile devices that display streaming video are the new television, with today's flat-panel TVs becoming tomorrow's niche, Manlove said. That trend will obviously change the industry's revenue model. The days of three, four or five television sets in the home may soon be a thing of the past. "Now we're going to see four, five, six tablets," Manlove said. "Those are 10-point margin products, and secondly they come with subscriptions and need broadband connections, of which we get no revenue. It really disappoints me. I don't want 100 percent of my business to be in 10-point margin items. I can't, because Target, Walmart, Costco and 7-Eleven have all these new devices."