CEDIA, residential AV’s go-to conference and trade show, just finished up last week. Although we have not seen 2017 attendance numbers released by the time this article was published, we know that attendance for both 2015 and 2016 hovered just under 19,000. And, while I can’t find a real-time number for how many people streamed the Apple keynote this past Tuesday, it is a safe bet to say that number is in the millions.
Apple's Eddy Cue showcases new live sports streaming on Apple TV 4K.
Why the unfair comparison? Just because the AV world knows a technology exists does not mean the world does.
The DVD player was announced years before you saw it on store shelves. I remember attending CES in 2000 when Bluetooth made its debut. Only in the past five years does an average person on the street know the term. In 2000 we were promised wireless charging for devices (and this is before smartphones existed) and yet we are only seeing this feature now, 17 years later.
1. The (Re)Introduction of 4K
4K televisions have been on the market for two years, yet the average man walking into a store cannot tell you what it is. At the Apple keynote on Tuesday, the company presented its new 4K Apple TV in front of millions. That moment, I believe, was the “official launch of 4K.” We, the technologists, have been explaining to our clients in our stores, and at their homes, what 4K is and why it is better, but it took Apple less than five minutes to make it really sink in. The company then demonstrated it (along with HDR) in only a way it can. Then the company revealed a magical way to get this new technology (content!) starting at just $179. (Sidebar: Can I say how excited I am that Amazon Prime Video also will be on the new streaming device?)
2. The Reinvention of Retail
Even as department stores continue to lose out to online retailers, Apple opened it keynote handing by introducing Angela Ahrendts, VP of retail, who revealed that Apple retail stores would now be town squares. The same designers that designed Apple Park, Apple’s massive new headquarters are developing the new stores that are “committed to making things simple and beautiful.”
Apple isn’t alone in this type of brick-and-mortar initiative to make physical locations less about merchandise and more about experiences as more people shop online. According to an article in the Washington Post, Nordstrom this week announced that its newest store in LA would not sell any clothing, shoes, or accessories, but would rather create a gathering ground for the customer to receive services from a stylist, tailors, and manicurists. It’s a model that our industry should continue to explore because you cannot buy “experiences” online. The trick for Nordstrom and others is to create loyalty, so a consumer will choose to buy from its brand instead of going on the web for the lowest price. Apple, by owning all of its products, will not have the same challenge.
3. Next Steps in Tech
I was skeptical when Apple Watch was first announced years ago. It turns out that I am now in the minority as Apple just beat out Rolex to become the number-one watch manufacturer in the world. Once again dominating the demonstration, Apple revealed a video of those who had written to them explaining how the watch had changed their lives; it gave me chills, and for the first time, made me want one. Now they have added cellular service to the wrist, which opens up even more possibilities.
The keynote then moved into phones from the new updated iPhone 8 to the “product to set the path for the next decade,” the iPhone X. Much of the discussion was about the design of the phones. However, what may make a splash in our world of AV will be augmented reality.
From games played while looking through your phone to a board that is not there, to looking at the stars through your phone with an overlay of constellation names, there are some amazing possibilities here.
From new strides in retail, to telling the world the glory of 4K, to pushing new tech into the palms of our hands, the Apple keynote should not be ignored, even if you are not a fan of the brand. This presentation is what the world is watching, and as an industry, we need to take that excitement and bring it to our clients' homes.