Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Publication Date: 02/1/2009
Archive >  February 2009 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

Year of the Turnaround
Jacob Fattal, Publisher
A new year always brings new challenges, and 2009 is no different. Right now the biggest challenge for many businesses is simply keeping afloat and hoping that they can last until the business upturn comes. For some, though, the end has already come, particularly in the retail sector — the most notable among electronics purveyors is Circuit City.

While Circuit City stages its last gasp going-out-of-business sale, other retailers are retrenching. Christmas was lousy, but many outlets were able to hang on because of the mad rush to buy large-screen HDTVs in time for the February HDTV deadline. Here is a case where a luxury is seen as a necessity by many Americans, even though they probably could have survived with a set-top converter box. HD and all-digital TV have been too long in coming. This is all the legacy of America being the first nation to broadcast commercial television back in 1939. The standards that were set then became cast in concrete after WW2, old standards that provided mediocre picture quality at best. In Europe, having the benefit of a later start, and seeing the mistakes being made in the U.S., TV standards were much better, and provided a level of viewing quality that was vastly better than that available to the American public.

All that has changed now, and the coming of digital HDTV may well be the one thing that can turn around the electronics industry worldwide. Flat-panel large screen TVs have been dropping in price to such an extent that they are no longer out of the reach of the vast majority of U.S. households. Whether or not this will provide the boost that is needed by our industry will probably not be revealed until about 3Q this year, and by then, we will all have a better handle on what's happening.

Economic analyst Chris Kuehl feels that all the elements are in place for a recovery to start later this year (see page 20), and we have to agree with him. After all, to be in business requires that you be an optimist, and this optimism in turn brings out the dogged determination to succeed, no matter what. The same is true across the board domestically and worldwide. And we will succeed; 2009 is the year of the big turnaround. For the world.  

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