The other day, I noted that Verizon’s V Cast music service doesn’t play nice with iTunes. In fact, it doesn’t play at all. While I’m sure that announcing a partnership with Microsoft (or any other exclusive, proprietary deal between a small number of companies) makes for great press conferences, it doesn’t play in Peoria. In this coming year, we are going to see more services and devices than the average person will be able to fathom. In fact, the average person missed your press conference and only wants Stuff To Work.
The dream, as described at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, is to allow devices like TVs, computers and audio receivers to share audio and video around the home, with a single remote control running the show.
Since everyone knows the dream — let’s call it a goal — surely new products are being developed to fulfill it. Or not.
At CES, tech heavyweights such as Intel, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp all showed off networking systems, but none of those systems are designed to work together. The resulting problems are similar to miscommunication between people who speak the same language but different dialects — sometimes they might understand each other perfectly well, but at other times they might not.
This isn’t an easy problem to solve, but if you look to stereo components of the past, you can see that a receiver from Sony managed to work just fine with a DVD player from Panasonic. They live peacefully together in the same dwelling. That’s how the new home entertainment network needs to be. Consumers want cool, definitely, but they also want cool that works straight out of the box. . .with all the other cool stuff they’ve bought.
Apparent winners in this high-stakes game will emerge quickly, but if the needs of the consumer aren’t addressed early in the process, there will be more expensive failures than successes. And, like the iTunes store proved, consumers will flock to the technology that works for them.