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Monday, 28 November 2011

An Open Letter to TV Manufacturers

Dear TV Manufacturers:

Please don't mind the format of this open letter.  I speak today to you not as a retailer of your products but as a consumer who has enjoyed the innovations you've given us in terms of TV technology but who is also frustrated with your inability to innovate in the ways I'd like.

While most of you have brilliant engineers working on your products, the benchmark for user experience has changed significantly over the last couple of years where many of you have fallen short.  The reasons for this are numerous but consumer expectations far exceed the innovations we've witnessed in the last couple of years.

Image: eikongraphia.com
A simple case in point for example is that you've worked on trying to make the television as slim as possible that it is today as thick as a picture frame.  This is nice to have but this is ruined when you hang it on your wall and have wires to connect to your external devices dangling down.  Do you ever see a picture frame with wires hanging from it?  The answer is NO, so why should we have wires hanging down the bottom of our super slim televisions?  

Why haven't any of you come with a solution that totally eliminates the clutter of wires that seem to hang off every TV?

Even when you do insist on us having to use cables to connect everything up, why do you keep the access for the cables on the back of the television?  I know, a few of you keep slots on the sides of the TV as well but the vast majority of the slots are always on the back of the TV.  Now put yourselves in the shoes of a consumer who buys another piece of gear and wants to connect it to his TV that's hanging on his wall.  What does he do?  If the majority of the slots for the cables are on the back of the TV, it means he needs to call a technician to come over to his house, take the TV off the wall, fix the cable on and then hang it again.  If you don't think this is happening, I can tell you, I've had to do just that in the last 24 hours.  I at least have an access to a pool of technicians who would come over to my house and do this for me as a favour but the normal consumer would have had to pay for a technician to come to their house just to install an HDMI cable.

I know you have great engineers working for you, but please get someone to review the designs with the consumer in mind.  Don't work in silo's where each department operates independently.  Your design team, your hardware engineers and your software teams all need to design a product together.  The norms and status quo in your industry is join to be challenged and when it does happen, it's not going to be about who has better technology.  It is going to be about who's innovated on the user experience.  

In his biography, Steve Jobs has already mentioned televisions was an industry he was going to target.  What could Apple do differently with TV's that you aren't doing at the moment?  Think about it because you need to move out of the comfort zone you're in at the moment as far as innovation goes.  Slimmer or higher resolution TV's is not the only thing the consumer wants today.

As a multi-brand retailer, I'm happy to continue selling your products, but I urge you as a manufacturer, please listen to your consumers as they are the ones who finally make the final decision to buy your brand.  If your brand doesn't deliver on the overall expectations of user experience, then don't expect consumers to buy them.  Marketing budgets will not convince them.  They are smarter than that.  I know a lot has changed in a very short time and I know you've worked hard to bring certain innovations to the table, whether it be Internet-enabled TV's or 3D TV's, but these could still be considered works in progress to the end consumer.  We expect more from you and we hope you'll do what it takes to deliver on these expectations or you could see someone else pull the rug out from under you before they start to dominate your  industry.

Yours sincerely,
Chief Operating Officer
Jacky's Electronics LLC