Landlines vs. Cellphones, Traditional Watches vs. Smartwatches

For many years the general population thought telephone landlines were "good enough." When cellphones first came along, I remember thinking they were too expensive and unnecessary. Cellphones then got smaller and cheaper, while reception and functionality also improved. Now cellphones and more specifically smartphones are much better than landlines -- almost no solicitation, the ability to block calls, reliable coverage, and a computer that fits in your pocket. 

So the landline telephone, which people thought was good enough and didn't think much about, has slowly become not good enough, at least relative to current cellphone/smartphone options. That's because what's considered good enough doesn't exist in a vacuum -- buyers decide what's good enough based on available options. A product that's widely considered good enough today may not be considered good enough five to 10 years from now.

You can imagine the same scenario unfolding with traditional watches versus smartwatches. Today many people believe the traditional watch is good enough, and they consider smartwatches expensive and unnecessary. In five to 10 years though, smartwatch functionality will be far ahead of where it is now. At that point the traditional watch may not be good enough based on other available options like smartwatches. It's not hard to imagine a slow and immense market shift from traditional watches to smartwatches.

I think this analysis may also apply to traditional cable, advertising, and privacy/security. Maybe today traditional cable is good enough. But what happens as a la carte, on demand streaming options continue to proliferate? On demand streaming is going to change the consumer's perception of good enough choice/price. Customers may start walking away from cable providers that won't unbundle their content and price the unbundled components attractively. 

With advertising and intrusions to privacy/security, most people accept some of both so they can receive free services -- for them, privacy and security is currently good enough. But this could change as interconnected devices proliferate and privacy/security becomes more important -- people could start paying more for products designed to protect their privacy/security.

The author owns stock shares of Apple.