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Tech Insight
By: Brenda J. Trainor

New Technologies Bring Opportunities for Growth in New Economy

Information technologies are an important part of the recovering economy and there are a number of trends in the field to watch that might be inspiring growth opportunities.

From the national policy perspective, the Federal Communications Commission is busy at work on its National Broadband Policy. This is an initiative to reexamine policies that will correct gaps in how our information system works. The dream is to have the most advanced communications network in the world, but US policy makers have long-lamented that internet access speeds and deployment in this country fall far short of other more advanced nations. Our internet doesn’t get to enough rural areas, we don’t have enough schools and libraries connected, it costs too much to have an internet service that it too slow – these are issues that policy makers want to address. And when government starts to address policies that affect pricing and deployment, the industry takes notice, and there are lots of industry players with lots of lobbyists in Washington who are interested in information technology. Cable, telephone, internet, broadcasters, movie makers, equipment manufacturers, satellite operators… there are lots of competitive players vitally interested in tracking these issues. Recently, Verizon’s chief lobbyist said there was a need to rewrite telecommunications regulation again, and this is just one part of a national debate that will be heating up in the coming months and years.

One of the reasons these issues need to be tracked is because the policies help to determine which technologies might take off and yield profits for industry in a hoped-for growing economy. Let’s look at a few key trends and how they might stimulate growth across industries.

The movie Avatar took 3D excitement to a new level of profitability. 3D films and television are growing rapidly. Of course there are issues with the potential of 3D growth. For movies, there needs to be enough screens in theaters to accommodate the growing number of three-dimensionally produced films and it costs money to capitalize the projection systems. Theaters are charging more for 3D versions of films, changing the economic picture of movie consumerism, and potentially increasing profit if the technology really makes a difference in how many people go to a theater to pay more to see a movie in 3D. And 3D is a potential game-changer for television as well. The recent NCAA basketball finals were transmitted in 3D at Graumann’s theater. It required a special 3D production team with special cameras and of course it cost money to watch the event in the theater, but some consumers raved at the effect -- “like being courtside.” If there is enough interest in these kinds of televised events, then the market for high-definition 3D televisions for home use becomes more attractive for manufacturers and electronics stores to opening up even more television sales.

And television isn’t what it used to be either. The 2010 Olympics coverage was a great example of how multi-modal tv can be. NBC carried the Olympics on its broadcast network as well as it various cable outlets (like MSNBC) as well as its digital channels, pay-per-view, and internet services. As a result, the company provided more Olympics coverage than ever before, sometimes competing with itself and offering depth of coverage not previously seen. Whether or not this was profitable is a different question, and consumers needed to learn where to go to find the event they wanted to watch whether that was a tv, a computer, of even a smart phone (something heavily advertised during the games). One of the key avenues of potential growth is navigational technologies – who keeps track and markets channel distribution systems across all these different platforms?

We are in a world where new technologies and new applications are reaching the market with great speed. There will be winners and losers as they compete for consumers’ money and time. But it is clear that consumers are more mobile, more flexible and better able to find information technologies across platforms – an IPad with new applications, a live event on a smart phone, a tv show on a home computer through the internet, a satellite delivered show in the back seat of the car – we can watch in any number of places to see which of these technologies works in a growth economy.

Brenda J. Trainor
Frontier Trail, Inc.
Box 935
Monrovia, CA 91017