The TV business is lousy, right? Companies are getting out of that market like it was a house on fire. Just last week, we reported that Sharp is leaving the Americas. It sold its Mexico plant and name and rights to Hisense for a measly $23.7 million. Sharp follows Toshiba, Hitachi, Pioneer, Mitsubishi, Philips, Magnavox and Thomson in divesting and selling its TV interests for fire-sale prices. The TV business is lousy, right?
So, how would you like to buy a piece of a TV company?
Some people think that digital audio is cold. That's debatable. But it's almost universally accepted that analog audio is cool. It is also funky, weird and apparently makes people say and do strange things. Digital audio comprises binary data offering relatively few opportunities for freakish mischief. Analog audio, on the other hand, offers endless possibilities. For example, I am sure you have noticed that flour tortillas fit nicely on a turntable platter.
If you have a home theater, it's easy to see that commercial movie theaters are both your friends, and your enemies. On one hand, without them and the billions of dollars they generate, movie studios would never spend the hundreds of millions of dollars required to make a movie. We owe the content we watch at home to the commercial theaters. On the other hand, adversarially, these theaters get first dibs on all content, and we must impatiently wait for home media to eventually appear. Don't like waiting? Well, if things work out, you soon might be able to cut in line.
Many of the age-old audio problems have been solved, or at least beaten into submission. Ever since Edison recited “Mary had a little lamb,” countless audio engineers have poked
and prodded, pulled all-nighters, made minor adjustments, had genius-caliber brainstorms, and generally worked far above their pay grade to lift audio technology to a very high state of the art.
Without a doubt, it is a cheesy idea. On the other hand, at least it doesn't cost a lot of dough. Pizza Hut Hong Kong is selling pizza in a specially designed Blockbuster Box. Figuring that movies and pizzas go together like, well, mushrooms and pepperoni, the cardboard box can be rigged to project movies played on your phone. Yes—you read it right—a pizza box that projects movies.
Aereo, as you'll recall, collected over-the-air TV signals and distributed them to its subscribers via the Internet. With any kind of web access such as a browser, phone, tablet or connected TV, you could access a cloud DVR and watch content anywhere. But, as you may also recall, that business model was judged to be illegal. Aereo had its plug pulled. But now, TiVo is working to revive an Aereo-type model.
James Atkinson invented the "Little Nipper" mousetrap in 1897. Its familiar spring trap snaps shut in 1/38,000 of a second and is still the go-to method for addressing your rodent issues. Still, the trap's simple and efficient operation hasn't stopped other inventors from trying to build better mousetraps and patenting over 4,000 of them. All of which raises the question: can you invent a better Bluetooth speaker? Meet the Vamp.
Hi-res audio is having problems. Not your garden-variety problems. These are the life threateningproblems. Where do I begin? Well, Neil Young used Kickstarter to raise $6 million to fund his Pono project and deliver it into the hands of music enthusiasts. Good for him. Good for music. Good for hi-res playback. Of course, nothing is ever that simple.
Start saving up now. In about 20 years, you'll have to buy another complete home theater. Except this one won't be at home. It will be in your car. Put in perspective, the Compact Disc is about 30 years old so 20 years isn't so far off. Like I say - start saving now.
A quick look at the pie chart suggests that the music industry exists in a nice state of equilibrium. Sales appear to be evenly split among downloads, streaming, and physical media. If you were a financial planner, and your client's portfolio was as neatly balanced as that, you could sleep soundly. But of course, that equilibrium is only a snapshot of a very dynamic situation. In reality, the way we listen to music is changing fast.