By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE:What new technologies are looming on the horizon, what's coming down the road in the next 3-5 years?
D'ANDREA: I think wireless is going to play a large part because it serves that need for ease and convenience. We're also looking at the enhancement of video capabilities [on the cameras].
YOUNG: Nokia declared that they will be the number one seller of cameras by 2005.
CARR: I believe that the next killer app is going to be organizing the digital shoebox. IDC says thirty billion images will be taken a year. How do I organize them and put them into a place where I can always view them or send them or share them? And whoever can figure that out is really going to drive the industry.
SIENKIEWICZ: I kind of compare where we are now in the industry with the Garden of Eden. There are different little animal groups off procreating and populating and growing up differently so we've got some giraffes appearing over here in Africa, and we've got some kangaroos down in Australia, and some tigers running around in India. And they are all growing up to be very different, but very powerful animals.
They're all attractive and they're all wonderful, and there's really no limitation as to what we can see as long as we keep two very basic things in mind. One, that people are still going to want to be able to take pictures in some way, they're going to want to share pictures with each other, they're going to want to be able to preserve them. And two, they're going to want to find new ways to enjoy them.
Where retailers can play the most critical role, is to show consumers how to enjoy their pictures. Whether it's through software that allows them to edit and print, or whether it's through a printing experience where they have a hard copy, whether it's by adding it on their hand held device, or having it on their PC monitor at home. The more ways we can find for them to enjoy the experience of working with the image — that's how we'll all profit.
PECK: I think the responsibility of the manufacturers is to communicate to the end user how they benefit from this. And I think that the technology has gone faster than our ability to communicate to the customer how simple it is and how easy it is to use and how much fun it is to use. I think that that has to catch up to the technology.
MULLER: We have to manage and promote more choices than we've ever had to before, which is a good thing because there's big business in that.
MINNOCK: The only thing I'd like to add, because I think a lot of great points have certainly been made, is the degree to which we can interlock the products with the software and the services and the partners that we're working with in such that it becomes very easy for the customer.
The degree to which we can make, as Jon [Sienkiewicz] mentioned, all these different animals play together is very important. We have to get to a point where we're not selling just a set or an assortment of printers and cameras and services and software, they have to act as one. And the degree to which we can interlock them so that all the technology that does the interlocking is essentially invisible to the customer, I think that's going to be the trick and the glue that holds the whole thing together and pulls the mass market folks in.
PECK: We're passed the stage of the early adopters who care how the technology works, to the point where the customer now doesn't care how the technology works.
GROSSMAN: We have to be careful that we don't focus on the twenty percent market penetration of the early adopters and people that have already bought cameras. We need to look at the eighty percent of the people that have been intimidated and still don't realize how easy it is to use. And I think that technology has to make it easier. I think once it gets more complicated, once you say you can take your camera and you can do this, connect to that, you can print over here, you can share it over there, that eighty percent is going to turn away.
CARR: It gets back to what we said in the beginning, the benchmark that we have to achieve in the digital world is the benchmark that has been achieved in film, ninety to ninety-five percent consumer satisfaction. And we're not there. When we do get there, we'll get that other eighty percent.
YOUNG: I think in the next few years we'll see it to the point where we have multiple imaging devices. One that is built into our cellphones or our PDAs, or even very small cameras that we carry around almost all the time. But we're also going to have serious cameras that we take to events or on vacations where we want to preserve memories and we're concerned about the quality and we're concerned about the performance of the camera. Although that latter group won't be for every consumer but for a large number, it's the first group, that casual photographer, who uses a type of photography which is very transitory that is going to create that system integration that Ed [Minnock] referred to. It's going to demand it.
TWICE:How do you profit in a world where photography is so transitory and non-traditional sharing so wide-spread?
CARR: Well, if you look at this generation that's growing up, they're growing up in a subscription world. They are living on AOL. They are living on cellphones. If they don't have cellphones they definitely have pagers. So I think that subscription model, going forward, is a very viable model.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.