I know, it’s something none of us have a lot of anymore. Patience. The understanding that things don’t happen instantly, that it takes time to do things right, that sometimes it’s better to let things develop naturally than to force them to happen quickly.
Patience, or even an understanding that it’s not only necessary, but that developmental time frames are inevitable and unavoidable is particularly lacking when it comes to new technology.
The announcement is made, the invention is heralded, the stock prices of the companies involved react, the consumer press swoons, customers are primed with new expectations, and then…..nothing happens.
Well, actually lots of things are likely to be happening, but instant gratification and instant national rollout of the technology is not one of them, and that’s all that matters to the folks who have only been told what the wonderful end result will be, not all the time, money, difficulties, set-backs, etc., that are involved in getting there.
Think of just about any new technological development. Cable was going to sweep away broadcast television because of the multiplicity of channels and clear pictures. Well, the channels and pictures are now here, and there’s very robust competition for eyeballs, but only after a long, hard struggle.
Satellite delivery of video was going to revolutionize everything, but most folks seem to forget that the DBS licenses were announced with great fanfare and prognostications 10 years before the service "got off the ground" so to speak.
Cell phones were magic. They were also these huge devices that did not really fit in a briefcase very well. They have come a long way, but it has taken a lot of years, and we’re still hoping we don’t "lose signal" in the middle of a conversation.
Now there are all sorts of new announcements. One that is of direct importance to us is that the consumer electronics industry and the cable industry have finally reached an accord on "tru2way" technology. This will usher in an era of competitive CE products connecting directly to cable systems and operating with full two-way functionality for services such as program guides, interactive offerings, VOD and the like.
But wait. Remember what I said above about patience. It’s a very important step that the industries have taken, and it will lead to lots of neat stuff in the future. However everyone has to understand that a rollout of technology like this, in every cable system headend across the country, and with new equipment purchased by consumers in every home, will take a while to actually have measurable impact. Things like this just don’t happen quickly. They can’t.
The transition of television viewers to high definition took years to really start happening. I have to admit, I am surprised at the speed with which it is now finally ramping up, but that has a lot to do with the fact that most television set manufacturers are basically no longer making larger sets with anything other than HD capability. That will not be the case with tru2way, or Blu-ray, (is there a conspiracy to get rid of the letter "e"?) or lots of other neat new consumer electronics technology.
It takes time, both on the engineering and business side and for consumers to accept and adopt these new technologies. The good news is that they are now here. The bad news is that soon we will start hearing complaints that "we" are moving too slowly in making sure that everyone enjoys the latest "new" thing. Patience and technology expectations don’t mix.