Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 10, 2010

Is the Era of the Living Room over?

(I’m still getting to emails. I’ve been involved with a lengthy project so that is likely why I haven’t responded to you yet.)

Anyway, Alex St. John is talking again, and he is always fun to listen to. While he is trying to play Nostradamus, the pattern of overshooting the customer allowing a disruptor to enter was always a key part of the Nintendo strategy. The future is going to be interesting because Nintendo, being a software company primarily, can bend and weave their ways to whatever way the winds blow. But Microsoft and Sony know only how to bump up the graphics and processors. We are rapidly entering a world where graphics and processor speeds no longer matter. And the ‘social interaction’ both Microsoft and Sony do is a joke as it is nothing but imitations of what is done on the PC. So where do they go from here?

People keep asking where Nintendo goes after the Wii. but the real question is where do Microsoft and Sony go? Nintendo isn’t going to tell their competitors which way they are going until it is too late.

What Alex said that is far more interesting is the notion of the living room dying. That is quite a statement. The living room, as we know, basically centers around the TV. All the chairs and sofas and other furniture revolve around the TV and face it. But if screens are now everywhere, the living room implodes.

I like to tell this story of back in the 1980s, when everyone watched TV (except for us cool people who knew about computers and computer games), I asked about people in other countries that did not have TVs what did they do with their free time? The answer surprised me back then. It was sitting around and talking with friends.

Fast forward a few decades and TV viewing is melting into precisely sitting around and talking with friends. People are spending their free time on message boards, on instant chat, on cell phones, just blabbing on to their friends. It clearly is not a new development. The Living Room may have been a long lived anomaly all along.

Without a living room, what would a home be? Or is the living room going to transform into some sort of Social Room or Party Room?

If you remember when the HD systems were coming out in 2005 and 2006, the goal was clearly to ‘take over the living room’. Alas for them, the living room is breaking apart. Just witness how fast and subtle the change has been. What changes will there be in the future?

One thing is for sure, according to my investor class friends, the changes are going to accelerate. The process of change is going to get faster, not slower. Older people are going to have a hard time keeping up. I guess I better get a move on.



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