Friday, March 8, 2013

Birnbach Communications' Top Predictions for 2013, Part VII

 Premature deathwatch of things that are very much alive, Part I 

·         One type of story reporters and bloggers like to write is the purported death of various, usually popular items, devices or technology. PowerPoint to email to texting and beyond have been proclaimed dead, even as those technologies continue to be used. We suspect these death wishes are a backlash to ubiquity combined with enormous frustration with the tech itself. The list of tech whose reported death is an exaggeration seems destined to grow larger with every year so here are candidates for 2013:
o    e-Readers: Just as ebooks are outselling hardcopy books, we expect a backlash affect saying that e-readers are dead because of the iPad and the iPad Mini. Yet we think e-readers will continue to sell because they weigh less and are easier to hold than tablets and because their screens are designed to be read in full sunlight (something you can’t do on an iPad).
o    Flash: Because of the popularity of Apple devices that are designed not to use Flash, some people have predicted Flash’s death. But there are still a lot of PCs out there that can use Flash. We say it’s not dead yet.
o    PCs: Last year, we said we expected that Post-PC would be a term we’d hear a lot – and we did – but though PC sales are declining, there’s still some life in PCs yet. There are still some things that you can do more easily and efficiently on a PC than a tablet so don’t write them off – just yet.  We think Ultrabooks and devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro (part-PC/part-tablet) will continue to be in use through the end of the decade.
o    Cable TV: With all the articles about cord-cutting, you’d think all households were abandoning cable. That’s not the case, exactly. There are still programming like sports and local TV that you can’t easily get via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. And if you have to pay for all the streaming services to replicate cable, you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated when you cobble together different services and that you’ll wind up paying several hundred bucks a year. 
o    3D TVs and 3D glasses: Though it was the much hyped tech from last year’s CES, 3D TVs never took off. The reason: There’s just not enough 3D content available to make it worth purchasing 3D TVs.  A year later, there’s still not enough 3D content, and it doesn’t look like much is being developed, except for some 3D movies, which also aren’t meeting expectations. But if 3D movies didn’t die in the 1950s, when they were pioneered, we bet that 3D isn’t completely dead. Another reason people proclaim the death of 3D TVs is the launch of 4K and OLED TVs, which offer ultra high definition screens the size of entire walls. However, those UHD sets are also ultra expensive so we don’t expect to see them in everyone’s living room for some time. Please note: we do think 3D glasses for living room use is dead.
o    Blu-ray machines and DVDs: Typically the deaths of Blu-ray and DVDs are proclaimed for the same root cause: people prefer to stream video rather than own DVDs that can be scratched and destroyed and can only be played on certain devices (like Blu-ray players) that you can’t easily take with you everywhere.  But the fact is lots of people own lots of DVDs, and we don’t think people are going to be willing to throw their collections into the scrap heap of history just yet. Besides, DVDs offer featurettes that you can’t access from streaming video sites, which is often why people buy DVDs of their favorite movies. Also, for some households, the easiest way to access the streaming sites is through their Blu-ray players so don’t them out just yet. On the other hand, you don’t need Blu-ray quality when you’re streaming video.
o    Radio: Funny thing is that radio was supposed to have died years ago. In 1979, the Buggles hit the charts with their one hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” referencing a time in 1952 when radio was supposed to have died. Yet radio continues on, even in an era of iTunes.  That’s not true of cassette tapes, as evidenced that no new cars come equipped with tape players and that last year Sony actually stopped producing the Walkman, its pioneering portable music player. We’ll know radio is dead when car manufacturers stop including radios in new cars. But until that time, consider radio’s death to be premature. (Sorry, Buggles, whatever you’re doing now, certainly not, as they sang, playing their VCR.)

Let us know if you agree or disagree. Check back tomorrow for additional predictions or click here for Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V or Part VI.

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