Besides that 800-pound gorilla crashing around the room—the economy—here’s a look at the seminal events in CE technologies, products and other trends that our roundtable participants thought had the biggest impact on the industry and their businesses in 2008.
For Michael Perlman of Florida’s BrandsMart USA and George Manlove of Montana’s Vann’s, it was more about the progressions in already existing technologies, as opposed to new breakthroughs, that aided the sale of new products and appealed to consumer tastes. “I saw nothing jaw-dropping in new technology,” Manlove said. “It was more a maturation of technologies with no one willing to take leaps of faith. I’m a huge technology fan, but this year it was all about zeros and ones.” He cited the achievements of both Apple and Control4 (a company he said that is “very on-point”) in refining and simplifying the relationship between the user and product interface.
“The iPhone became the strongest CE product in years,” he said. “He who controls content or user interface has the key to longevity in our industry, and the user interface for the iPhone is transportable across platforms. Apple is well-positioned at the pinnacle for years to come. They have gone from the classroom to the living room more elegantly than any of the smokestack consumer electronics companies.”