Back in the mid-70’s the digital watch was introduced and it revolutionized the watch industry – for about two or three years. Everyone thought that the analog watch was dead. Digital watches were extremely expensive, very accurate and a huge fashion statement – worn by both business executives and celebrities. Then everyone moved back to the analog watch. Why? For many of us, it just seemed like a watch should have hands. It is the way it should be – regardless of whether digital watches are more accurate and more practical. Today, digital watches are targeted at the athletic community only.
I was driving to work this week listening to the radio and an ad came on for a local cable company explaining that their DVR system could record four television shows at one time. It made me wonder – why? Why do we have an entertainment distribution system that pushes content out to the public at specific pre-set times and we have to build devices that can capture it so that it is not lost. Wouldn’t it be more practical to simply post the content and allow people to download what they wanted – when they wanted? In effect, isn’t that what we do with DVRs now? However, it is posted and then disappears and if you miss your time slot, you don’t get another shot. We already have video-on-demand. Why isn’t this the standard distribution method? It seems to me that much like the wristwatch example, we still feel a need to broadcast content at 9:00pm on Thursday or 8:00pm on Monday because that’s the way it has always been.
I am sure someone from the television industry will explain to me that it is important that we keep this system because the networks need a way of lining up the shows. In other words, a show will do much better on a Tuesday night than a Wednesday night. The new sitcom will perform much better after the existing successful sitcom than on the other time slot. I would have agreed with this prior to the DVR when we actually sat and watched the shows at those time slots. However, I haven’t watched live television in years. My favorite programs are sitting on my DVR and I watch them anytime I want. The programming time has no impact on me whatsoever. Even when watching a sporting event, I will wait until it is 45 minutes into the game and then begin watching so that I can fast-forward through the commercials. Why do we still schedule the programming? Why not simply post it and then let people download it? It seems to me that this is another example of holding onto a comfortable process rather than using the more practical one.
My final example is music. I am a big fan of iTunes and the concept of downloading music. However, it has taken me a long time to get past the concept of not having all of my music on CDs. For the first year, I would download an album and then immediately burn a CD and put it on the CD rack. I felt good about this. It was the way it should be. It was the way it has always been. Then I realized that I never played that CD. I played the music from my iTunes library. I have finally broken this habit.
Human nature and comfort zones are an interesting thing. We continue patterns of behavior knowing that they are inefficient, costly and sometimes dangerous – even when a more practical, cheaper and safer solution is right in front of us. Creative, innovative and bold companies will find these opportunities and capitalize on them.
Are there any examples that you can think of?
If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to the RSS feed.