The rate of television replacement cycles is shrinking. Whereas the average U.S. household used to buy a new television set every 5 – 7 years, 39 percent of United States households are now expected to buy HDTVs during the two-year span of 2011 and 2012.
According to GigaOm’s Ryan Lawler, the primary reason for this is increased affordability. As televisions become affordable for the average American, the average American is buying more often.
Considering the fact that it’s no longer acceptable to own a television that’s heavier than a member of your family, it makes sense that such a large portion of American households will buy a new flatscreen HDTV over the course of the next couple years, but what will drive mass consumption next?
My guess is that things like OS, voice control, and other usability factors will pick up where hardware left off. This was the case with mobile phones. If television manufacturers can drop prices just low enough while innovating in the area of usability to create stronger demand more often, they can create replacement cycles that move from 5 – 7 years to much less.
This is going to be a precious balance, but it’s going to determine the fate of the industry. After all, if people aren’t buying televisions quickly enough then they will become increasingly dumb in comparison to the rest of the technology we carry in our pockets. Like Fred Wilson says, cheap will be smart. Expensive will be dumb.