Anywhere, anytime: Is 2011 the year we hit the tipping point?

March 2011

Anywhere, anytime: Is 2011 the year we hit the tipping point?

It is that time of year, the beginning of year, and in this case the beginning of the decade, when journalists and media experts tell us about what we need to pay attention to in the future as well as what we need to remember about history, albeit mostly recent history.

The anywhere, anytime, device of one’s own choosing is front and center once more in many articles and newsletters.  From our point of view, given the trajectory of the technology in recent years, 2011 is the year we will reach, or certainly be very close to, the tipping point.

In January, along with 144,000 others, we attended CES, the annual conference where many of the devices that will enable us to get to the tipping point were on display.  Some of the products and concepts seen at CES will end up on one of next year’s or the following year’s year end list.  Some will hit a best of list and others will be on the not so best list – trying to be diplomatic, here.

Just prior to CES, I moderated Content Delivery Where Ever and When Ever as a part of the annual Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas on January 5, 2011.  With digital storage and cloud computing very much on my mind, I was anxious to see new products at CES and to begin thinking about which ones will be must haves.

“Anywhere everywhere” was a prevalent theme at CES, one that stood out at many exhibits as strongly as 3D and a few others, which indicates its important role in CE, particularly in light of the growth of video content on the web.

CES has a way of disseminating buzz words about the conference.  This year, the buzz words I heard most often included cord cutting, over the top, Internet connected TVs, smart TV, and, of course, cloud computing.   All are related to the anywhere, anytime concept.

Consider that consumer video content has been growing at better than 50% per year.  It is rumored that the next version of the iPhone will have a TV receiver chip built in, although it is not in the just released Verizon version.  Perhaps it will be iPhone 5, thought to be a July release.

Notwithstanding the many innovative products showcased at CES, it is tough for many products to have an impact in the marketplace.  Good concepts do not necessarily translate into top sellers and profitable companies.  There are many factors that stand in the way of success, but one of them is hype, hype and more hype. It is not easy to predict what the next big thing will be.

The hype comes from the press and the companies themselves.  It caught me several years ago when at CES I saw a wide array of small laptops, the early versions of netbooks, and many new versions of tablet computers.

So, I bought a tablet, some 3++ years ago, an HP TX 1000.  It looked like a basic laptop, but the touch screen top could be twisted around and folded on top of the built-in keyboard to form a tablet.  The laptop not only had a touch screen, but also a great hand writing recognition application and conceptually, it would save a lot of time from having to scan handwritten meeting notes.

This was cool, because I was already using a similar app on my phone.  Cooler, too, it recognized my handwriting, at least most of the time, and that is not an easy task.

The problem was that at the time, not many people were using tablets, so bringing it to meetings become a distraction as people wanted to know more about it, see the handwriting transcribing demo, etc.  Today, it would not even raise an eyebrow to bring an iPad or other tablet to a meeting.

We have all been in meetings where someone pulls out a smart phone or tablet and begins to play something from You Tube or some other site.  Today, accessing web based content is not considered a distraction, at least not when it is germane to a meeting.

M&E Daily reported on February 10, that “online video posted double-digit growth last year, both in terms of viewership and time spent. Online video sites and services claimed some 88.6 million daily unique users in December 2010, a 31% increase from December 2009.”

Whether it is non-distracting or very distracting, it will continue.  It no longer matters which screen we use to view our favorite business or personal content, as in the end, it will be the screen that is most convenient at that moment, “traditional” TV, computer monitor or our favorite mobile device.

Will 2011 be the year of the tipping point for anytime, anywhere?  Probably, but if not, we can’t be far off.  Stay tuned, to use an expression that does not seem to go out of date or style.

Trends in the Marketplace

This section generates many positive unsolicited comments from people we see at trade shows and other industry events.  Tracking trends is a way of predicting the future – helping to assess the viability of products in the marketplace.

In case you missed it, the phone book white pages are gone. Miss them?

Currently 13% of households have landlines with no cell phones, down from 24% in 2007.  It would seem that number can only drop so far as there will be some who will never buy one, but most likely they are not reading this newsletter.

A solid majority of U.S. homes now have an HD TV, up from just 12% five years ago. The Leichtman Research Group reports that 61% of homes have at least one HD set, and about one-quarter have more than one. It is the “more than one” statistic that will be a factor in determining how fast 3D TVs will be sold, notwithstanding the fact that there is still a shortage of compelling content to entice buyers who are not early adopters.

The Programming Insider reported in mid February that the DVR penetration rate is 38% up from 33% from the end of last year.   Wouldn’t you think that “everyone” with an HD set (61%) would have a DVR?  This will continue to impact the TV ratings,  even with tracking the viewing habits for days after the initial broadcast.

We were pleased to see the new compostable Sun Chips bag.  We think this is the beginning of a major trend as companies spearhead green initiatives that can resonate with the public.  Bravo!

At the Storage Visions conference, one of the keynote speakers was Brian David Johnson an Intel Futurist who recently wrote a book entitled SCREEN FUTURE The Future of Entertainment, Computing, and the Devices We Love.

His keynote was enlightening and reminded us of a research paper we were involved in about 5 – 6 years ago entitled The Future of the Living Room.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Johnson’s keynote covered some trends that we predicted in that paper that are still evolving, others that are well established and others that may never see mass adoption.

As for The Shindler Perspective

We are looking forward to CinemaCon (FKA Showest) at the end of March.

Shortly thereafter, we will be at NAB. Based on what we are hearing, the conference will be bigger than last year as more and more companies and others involved in entertainment and entertainment technology see it as a must attend event.  Always great to track some of the trends in the marketplace at NAB.

Digital Hollywood will be in a new location at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey in May.  Soon I will announce the panels in which I will be participating.

As always, Roberta and I wish our friends, clients and prospective clients well.

For The Shindler Perspective, Inc.



Marty Shindler

Chief Executive Officer


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