Mr. and Mrs. Smith walk into that big box store and ask the boy in the blue Polo shirt for the best television; so he points them to the 4K displays. There, they find larger than life, bright, beautiful flat screens that can only be described as “a feast for the eyes.” They stand right up close to the set and cannot see a single pixel. They pull out the plastic and make a purchase.
This story is happening all over America right now. But, let us take this tale one step further…
The happy couple, purchasing the newest technology on the market, brings home their new TV and sets it up. Where is that picture quality they saw at the store? While nice, it is not as crisp or as bright as what they had just seen. Fast forward eight months down the line when DIRECTV introduces 4K, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith sign a two-year agreement for the service, only to find that it does not work with their fancy new TV. Fast-forward a few months more when 4K is released on a disc or hard drive player with HDCP2 content protection, and, sadly, it also does not work with their fancy flat screen.
The story no longer has such a happy ending. Maybe they go back to the big box store, but who there will listen to their woes?
Now, what happens when Mr. and Mrs. Smith come to YOU and ask for the best television? Do you quickly make the easy sale and give them the gift of 4K? Will they come back to you when the curse of tomorrow's 4k does not work with the TV you sold them this festive holiday season?
Yes, we are in this business to make money—for passion will not feed our families—but don’t we have a responsibility to sell the right products at the right time? My company is the client’s “technology consultant,” and we fully understand that if we want to play the long game, we should not go for the easy sale of today. There are some legitimate reasons to buy a 4K TV today, and if, after discussing with my client the pros and cons, they deem it a fit, I will make a sale. However, I need to know they fully understand what they are purchasing.
This holiday season I feel I am yelling, “Wait!” from the rooftops, only to be overplayed by these boys in blue or the online giants. I am at the forefront of the battleground commanding my troops to hold their ground; do not push this technology… yet. Certainly, these issues are not slowing down manufacturers from pushing 4K TVs with better-than-ever pricing (that is only making the purchase more tempting to my clients).
Meanwhile, the public is happy to grab onto snippets like “Netflix has 4K” or “DIRECTV made an announcement to get 4K to the house.” If only they scratched the surface of these claims, they would find that things are not all they seem to be. Netflix still has problems sending you a full HD picture throughout a program without dropping down the resolution to make up for bandwidth limitations. DIRECTV will require proprietary cables and connections and will only work some TVs. Maybe they can't handle the truth. Maybe the public doesn't want to hear it.
The rapid speed of change in technology [link to http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=916] has created a fear of the obsolete, that as soon as we commit to a TV purchase, it will be out of date. Through this logic, it is easy to push one into a 4K set. Remember NTSC came online in 1941, and that was all we had for decades. HDTV was introduced to the U.S. in the late 1980s, but the first public broadcast was not until the late 1990s. In all reality, it was the analog sunset that pushed high definition forward, and that still took years. Anyone that remembers selling high-def in the early years will also remember the multiple formats available before 720p and 1080i were agreed upon. When did your local news stations finally invest in HD technology?
Four-K may be the next step into the future, but like HD it will require the content to be shot in 4K, a way to deliver it, and the TV to display it. We are still missing that middle piece.
As I continue to beg my clients to wait, I stand back and watch the masses clamor for this technology that is not ready. For me, I will hold my ground until manufacturers, cable companies, and the studios can get on the same page. We shall see what comes out of CES in a few weeks and hope for some solutions.
How are you handling this 4K holiday sales blitz?
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.