By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
TWICE: Is wireless ready for prime time? Will it ever be?
Lee: We see continued potential there. I think it's a technology that may be a bit before its time for the average consumer. The early adopters are enjoying it. It touches on an important issue as to what consumers are doing with their images. How are they storing them? How are they transferring them? In the future, I think wireless can be an important part of how we archive, store and transfer images. It's not totally ready for prime time, but it's right on the edge.
Lubell: We believe in the technology for the reasons David [Lee] mentioned. How consumers share and transport those images, on a home network or to a solutions provider will be a key driver for that technology.
Magee: It's all about access. People really want their pictures any time, any place. And the promise of wireless is really compelling, but to the consumers, the reality is wireless outside the home just isn't there. It's complicated, it's limited, it's unreliable, and it's just not in place just yet. But there's no doubt that consumers would prefer the ease of use, wireless experience, and once the ecosystem is there, they'll embrace it.
We're seeing an example of this in picture frames. Wireless is a very strong feature set.
Rubin: It comes down to what kind of scenario we're talking about. Is the camera an independent entity on a network, or a PC peripheral? For a PC peripheral, Wi-Fi may be overkill and difficult for the mass market. As we start to see wireless USB in laptops over the next year or so, I think that's going to offer a much easier experience for local backup or exchange of photos and video onto the PC wirelessly.
Cordova: I think wireless will eventually take off, but not until it becomes a turnkey solution for consumers. There needs to be much more infrastructure. And I think that's an issue in this market more than anywhere else.
Pepple: Wireless needs to be what the camera industry did for photography: point and shoot. So on the wireless side, we're looking for technologies that are basically aim and transfer. The technology needs to be simpler. There are still a lot of issues around security. Bluetooth is certainly a little easier to use, but the transfer speeds are slow. What we're working with currently is IR Simple technology which was adapted by the IRDA organization. It's available overseas in flat-panel TV, cellphones, TV's, printers. We see those peripheral devices making their way to the U.S.
TWICE: What other features do you think could drive the point-and-shoot market beyond '08?
Maciag: We're having success with waterproof. We see that as a category that could expand. Anything that sets you apart, that addresses a specific consumer need will be very important moving forward. I think you'll see a lot of market segmentation with customers who want specific cameras for specific applications and uses.
Lubell: We believe that the opportunity is in both capture and the post-viewing experience. Viewing your images on high-definition television is something we see as a very viable way for consumers to express themselves. I remember the days of being around the family and my dad taking out the carousel projector and putting the slides in upside down. But sharing those memories on a big screen, I think is something that will come around again.
Magee: The living room hub is the frontier we've looked at … and with high-definition TV's offering the same resolution as those slideshows, it's coming. It's complementing the TV industry's rapid growth.
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.