In last few years, it has been amazing for me to see all the exciting development in the consumer electronics industry, the conversion from analog to digital and FCC's mandate to phase out analog broadcast alltogether, from VHS to DVD to HD-DVD and Blu-ray, from tape to CDs to iPods, you name it. Every piece of electronics you owned has gone through major changes. One subtle change taking place in the home theater system environments is the move from CD mega changers to hard-disk based servers. Here is an interesting article about this. Here is the rub. With most of these changes (okay, discount iPods) comes the need for custom installation. It used to be really easy to put all your CDs in a megachanger and play any CD you wanted using your remote. Okay, it used to take a looooooong time to load the one you wanted to play from hundreds loaded. But installation used to be really dead simple. Now you need a custom installer to set up your music server and all your precious tunes. Americans are spending ever increasing amounts of money on custom installation, repairs and performance tuning. Be it a new plasma television, a music server or multi-room audio system. A recent report published by Park Associates pegs this at more than $7B and that is only for installation. A graph is attached here: install_revenue_2005.jpg I wonder if technology is going to continue to get more complex for an average user to deal with. Is there going to be a wake-up call for manufacturers of all these wonderful gadgets to start working on common standards, interfaces and configurations (where is that single cable of mine, HDMI anyone?). Are we going to get back to that point where picking up a telephone handset used to give us a dial tone? All you had to do was plug in your new TV to start receiving the broadcast. And even my gradma could operate a VCR. Wishful thinking!

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