Each week I host an informal “Web lunch” at the office. Open to colleagues from across the organization, we get together to discuss, debate and learn from one another. Topics range from fun (Our technology predictions for 2010) to serious (Techniques for evaluating web strategy).
Our colleague Alphonse MacDonald, the director of Marketing and Technology for the National Academies Press, just returned from the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. His adventures were the topic of this week’s lunch.
FYI…What follows is NOT a transcript. I’m paraphrasing our discussion…
ME: Why did you go to the Consumer Electronics Show this year?
(Question behind the question: How the HECK did you get permission to go on company time? I am envious!)
AM: This was the first year they had a dedicated e-book reader track.
ME: What was it like?
AM: It’s hard to explain the massive scale of the event. There were nine bus stops outside the exhibition hall that would take people to their hotels at the end of the day. If you didn’t want to wait for a bus, you could take the Las Vegas monorail. The station was about a quarter mile from the exhibit hall and for two hours they would line people up to get on the monorail. And the monorail was faster than the bus!
ME: Who was your favorite speaker?
AM: There was this guy, Eric Weil, who reported on all these student stats. How many students have a smart phone. Current adoption of e-readers. He played an older, but interesting video called, “A Vision of Students Today.”
In spite of all the stats he showed proving students were not adopting e-readers it came down to this:
He had yet to meet a student who loves his textbooks.
The textbook market thrives on resale. Either students sell the books back for beer money or they buy a used textbook because it’s probably got some of the answers in them.
The e-reader textbook market doesn’t support reuse in any way.
ME: What’s the next big thing that’s going to fail?
AM: [Almost apologetically] The e-book reader.
They all look the same. None of them have sufficient resolution for displaying tables. It has to display them so small that it’s useless.
Well, except for the enTourage. The enTourage was a prize winner. On one side it’s a netbook, on the other side it’s an e-reader. So you could transfer the table from the e-reader side to the netbook side and get sufficient resolution.
ME: What was the most surprising thing you saw?
AM: 3D Television!
I was trying to describe how incredible it was to someone…
I was about six years old when I saw a TV for the first time and I remember I ran behind it to see where the people were. Then when I was about ten or so I tired a Walkman. The sound going through both ears…I remember that moment. It was like that. I just stood there with a silly smile on my face.
It’s not like 3D movies where you see the cut outs if you take off the glasses. It’s incredible.
I thought the Panasonic was most impressive.
ME: What do you think the next big thing is?
AM: 3D television. There was a display where they had a HD television next to a 3D television—the kind you didn’t need glasses for. They showed a baseball pitch. And with the HD television, yeah, it was nice. But with 3D television you can see the ball actually spinning as it goes over the plate.
Sony has invested half a billion in kick starting the market adoption. They’ll be broadcasting World Cup soccer, the biggest sporting event in the world, in 3D. It’s the next big, sellable thing.
So there you have it! We should start saving our nickles and dimes for a 3D television instead of a new e-book reader.