Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



I’m Bored – What’s Next…

Have we become like spoiled children who need the continual stimulation of a new toy?  We find a new product that has been brought to market, we get all excited about it, but like with a new toy or a hit song we soon tire of what it has to offer and want yet something else to entertain us.  This desire for yet another new thing may be good for the economy but it has become a real challenge for many companies trying to out-innovate products currently on the market that are selling like the latest “hit songs”.  And of course the downside to this is that if a company does not have a broad product base, just one miss can send it into oblivion.  Keeping up with this ever accelerating pace is creating some fundamental changes in how companies do business and how they introduce new products. 

Does this mean that we are awash in new innovations?  Well, not in my opinion.  By far the greatest efforts go into copying and quickly building on those few really new ideas that come our way every year or two or three.  For example, some years ago Microsoft introduced a tablet computer that was an adaptation of the PC.  It failed.  No one wanted to have a tablet for doing PC-like activities with a stylus instead of a keyboard.  It took Apple to come up with a new way of thinking about what a tablet should do and how it should interact with a user.  Now that paradigm is so well accepted that it is hard to imagine why it was not “obvious” to others.  Of course once something is shown to solve a fundamental problem the new way of doing becomes so ingrained in us that we can’t imagine doing it any other way.  Then of course everyone else jumps on the bandwagon and tries to show that they too can join the fray with minor modifications to the original innovative idea. 

What of course is so frustrating to those -- who have gone against common wisdom and blazed the trail to a new way of doing things – is that after a short time they get very little recognition for having done so.  And as with hit songs it’s not so easy to come up with a great new one every few months.  

Not only that but some less talented engineers who try to compete in this innovation-driven environment can create some spectacular misses.  For example, some of the new control schemes that are being introduced in the latest car models are creating more problems than they solve. 

On a recent business trip, I picked up a rental car that had some of these new electronically controlled “features”.   As I was pulling out of the rental car lot, I noticed that my backside was getting uncomfortably hot.  And I don’t just mean a little bit hot – I mean really burning hot.  I looked all over the dash panel and console for a switch or control to turn off the heated seat.  Well, guess what?   In order to turn off the seat heater, I first had to touch “climate” on the touch display panel, and then icons came up for the seat heater.  Actually, it even took some time to figure out that the sort-of seat-looking profile was the icon I needed.  The final insult in this saga was that every time I got in the car to drive it I had to go through this process.  The seat heaters came on with each new trip no matter how many times I turned them off.  And they came on at “high”.  So not only were they hidden at a sub-menu level on a touch panel, they were set to automatically come on whether I wanted a hot backside or not. 

The interesting and perhaps scary observation is that the pace of new product introductions is continuing to accelerate and will for the foreseeable future.  Along with this comes a level of instability that perhaps we have not seen before.  The fate of companies can swing dramatically in just a few months – or even a few weeks.  There is no break or letup from this torrid pace.  Will we be able to maintain this level of activity and pressure to perform or will many fall by the wayside exhausted from one or two failed efforts. 

In the meantime, we can expect consumers to display relatively little loyalty to brands or products.  The latest “hit song” will be what carries the day.  The rich rewards will go to those who can create a new idea and quickly get it to market.  New companies will grow in a flash, and then flame out equally quickly. The large giants will need to be quick followers or buy up the new ideas to stay competitive – or they will also end up struggling for survival.  Life will not be easy nor kind to investors – especially those who get in at just the time when a company looks great but is about to flame out.

For us in the display community all this is actually good news.  The more products that are brought to market and the more that companies need to distinguish themselves from others that are pursuing the same markets the more we will benefit with variants of existing and new display technologies.  

Will this accelerate the shift from LCD to OLED?  I think it is too soon to tell.  We have yet to see a major success for a reasonably large OLED based product.  I think when (and if?) that happens then it will be time to take a look at how long we can expect LCDs to continue their nearly complete dominance of the display market.  

Are you willing to make a prediction of how long LCDs will continue to dominate?  More than 10 years?  Twenty years or longer?   I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic and others.  You may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.      



19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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