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Bill Davis
USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 10, 2012 at 4:09:01 am

Since many here work in or around advertising and marketing, I thought this might be interesting to many.

It's an article I came across today on USA Today's site where a variety of experts in retailing look ahead to some of the technological and social changes that may affect the retail industry in the future.

A small exerpt...

"Within 10 years, retail as we know it will be unrecognizable, says Kevin Sterneckert, a Gartner analyst who follows retail technology. Big-box stores such as Office Depot, Old Navy and Best Buy will shrink to become test centers for online purchases. Retail stores will be there for a "touch and feel" experience only, with no actual sales. Stores won't stock any merchandise; it'll be shipped to you. This will help them stay competitive with online-only retailers, Sterneckert says."

The article talks about a lot of other stuff too.

The times they are certainly a-changin'

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-08-05/future-retail-tech/56880...

And as retail changes, our industry will likely have to change as well to best serve whatever it transforms into.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Richard Cardonna
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 10, 2012 at 7:07:47 pm

Theu will ship from china or elsewhere depending on the type of prodicts. more lost jobs for americans.


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Bill Davis
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 10, 2012 at 8:50:17 pm

Well, possibly.

But if there comes a time when you can actually "print" something like kitchenware - I suspect that local merchants will install the machines - and the people they have to hire to do customer service and handle sales will, of necessity - be local.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 10, 2012 at 11:23:19 pm

There are already consumer grade 3D printers so I see a not-so-distant future where we 'buy' a single-use right to print a wrench, for example, from an online store. The store directly communicates with the in-home 3D printer and a few minutes/hours later we have a wrench. The devil, of course, will be in keeping people from pirating the printing plans and tossing them out onto the web for anyone to grab. I wonder if Craftsman and Mattel are contemplating a world where people can print tools and kids toys at home?




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Michael Gissing
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 11, 2012 at 2:11:08 am

I saw a story about an Oxford professor who has published open source plans to build your own 3D printer. The best part is that most of the parts for the printer can be made with his 3D printer (apart from some metal bits). So find someone with his printer and make your own printer and so on.

Self replicating machines almost.


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Richard Cardonna
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 10, 2012 at 7:07:55 pm

Theu will ship from china or elsewhere depending on the type of prodicts. more lost jobs for americans.


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Daniel McClintock
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 11, 2012 at 6:03:13 am

[Richard Cardonna] "more lost jobs for americans."

Not just Americans but anyone in the world. If you can obtain a 3D printer by having it replicated by a friend's 3D printer, that manufacturing job in China or Singapore will have disappeared as well.

An interesting question to ask is if a country has too many workers that have been displaced by technology, what will happen to that country? People who don't have jobs have no money to buy anything. If there's no one to buy products, how will a business remain in business? I see a vicious circle approaching.

I have a feeling that the next 20 years will see fundamental shifts in every aspect of world communities. There is no job in the world that technology will not effect. I fear that we will also have a huge population that can't find employment, not because they aren't capable, but because they just aren't needed.

A result of this may be a population implosion.

"Sometimes Life Needs a Cmd-Z!"


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Tim Wilson
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 11, 2012 at 6:52:40 am

Along similar lines, I saw an article last month about Amazon ramping up its plans for SAME DAY delivery. It's available in some markets already. As a consumer, I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl.

I'm also as giddy as a schoolgirl that I'm not a bricks and mortar retailer or somebody who works at one.

Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
Twitter: timdoubleyou

The typos here are most likely because I'm, a) typing this on my phone; and b) an idiot.


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Liam Hall
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 11, 2012 at 10:54:03 am

[Daniel McClintock] "A result of this may be a population implosion."

The reverse will be true. It's the professional classes that don't have kids and if you haven't got a job, what are you going to do all day?

Liam Hall
Director/DoP/Editor
http://www.liamhall.net


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Rich Rubasch
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 12, 2012 at 9:06:33 pm

This idea is a bunch of bunk. Said the same thing when DVDs came to our homes for <$200 a player. Movie theaters were all going to go bankrupt.

Nothing compares to seeing a movie in a theater in the same way that nothing beats seeing an item, touching it, using it and then buying it. I don't want to go to Sears and look at jeans then go home and order them online so a UPS truck can deliver it to my house. I want the jeans now.

There is room for both models, but brick and mortar shopping will never go away.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 4:15:35 am

[Rich Rubasch] "This idea is a bunch of bunk. Said the same thing when DVDs came to our homes for <$200 a player. Movie theaters were all going to go bankrupt.

Nothing compares to seeing a movie in a theater in the same way that nothing beats seeing an item, touching it, using it and then buying it. I don't want to go to Sears and look at jeans then go home and order them online so a UPS truck can deliver it to my house. I want the jeans now.

There is room for both models, but brick and mortar shopping will never go away."


I don't think brick and motar stores will entirely disappear either, but considering all the boarded up Blockbusters, Borders, Circuit Cities, music stores, etc., I don't think the major impact of online sales can be ignored. I don't see that trend turning around as technology continues to improve and become more affordable.




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Richard Herd
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 12, 2012 at 8:04:49 pm

They've been saying that since 1998. I recall copy writing gig when we had a marketing dept debate on whether to use "show room" or "showroom."


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Phil Hoppes
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 12:15:10 am

Hope that never happens to a hardware store. "Man Law" and my own personal experience dictates that every plumbing job demands a minimum of 3 trips to the hardware store before the job is done. If I have to go look, buy, wait for shipment, return, buy what I forgot, wait for shipment, return, buy what I broke, wait for shipment every plumbing job could take 2 weeks minimum.


...... then again, it already takes close to that as it takes me a minimum of 10 days to psyche up just to do it in the first place.


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Michael Gissing
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 2:14:52 am

Futurist always forget human nature and the desire to socialise in public with real people. Shopping has changed but much will stay the same. A demand for a place to go publicly and be social with friends and strangers will demand that shopping centres will still be needed in the next iteration of our brave new world.

Sure lots of things can be bought online these days. Purchasing needed items is only part of what the psychology of shopping is about.


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Steve Connor
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 7:08:50 am

[Michael Gissing] "Futurist always forget human nature and the desire to socialise in public with real people. Shopping has changed but much will stay the same. A demand for a place to go publicly and be social with friends and strangers will demand that shopping centres will still be needed in the next iteration of our brave new world.
"


Futurists also don't know many women, a large section of society with a particular fondness for shops

Steve Connor
"The ripple command is just a workaround for not having a magnetic timelinel"
Adrenalin Television


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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 3:46:03 am

[Phil Hoppes] "Hope that never happens to a hardware store."

I think the reality of a wrench "printed" from foam or plastic will keep that at bay for a while.


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Bill Davis
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 6:25:26 pm

Humm...

Did a screen replacement on one of the family MacBooks not so long ago.

Bought a $2.99 "custom tool kit" from the replacement panel mfg. The included plastic bag had about eight specialized tools including two small moulded plastic "pry bars" used to separate the device housing where it snapped together.

These were small, incredibly cheap tools perfectly suited for what I needed. A one-shot tool designed to do one job - then get tossed.

A 3d plastic printer could provide the exact same thing at home without a big supply chain being involved.

The question is how broadly you define "tool." I can totally imagine downloading a file that produces a hardened plastic "one time tool" - perhaps to handle some weird "inverted Torx" screw designed to keep customers from opening and messing with a high tech device - in that example, "printing your tools" starts to make some very elegant sense.

I get that most of us, when we think "tool" we imagine something like a 1 pound metal pipe wrench - and that's clearly hardware store territory as of today. But if someone eventually develops a cheap acrylic with a tensile strength comparable to steel and an affordable "printer" that can make it wrench shape - our thinking is going to totally change. And fast.

FWIW.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 6:40:33 pm

[Bill Davis] "But if someone eventually develops a cheap acrylic with a tensile strength comparable to steel and an affordable "printer" that can make it wrench shape - our thinking is going to totally change."

Yeah, and if somebody builds a Star Trek-like transporter our thinking will totally change, too. Arthur C. Clarke wrote about such a thing in the last of his 2001 books, but the reality of such a printer--one that can do a wrench today, a plate tomorrow, a Barbie on Tuesday--is far in the potential future that it just isn't worth discussing its potential impact on near-future economics. Even if it were nearly technologically viable today, the heat and chemical interactions required would be drastic enough to keep it out of a home.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:24:12 pm

An adjustable wrench is scanned into a computer, the 3D model is fine tuned by a 3D modeler (which isn't really shown in the video) and then printed using a 3D printer.







Doctors use a 3D printer to make an ABS plastic vest and exoskeleton arms to improve a little girl's mobility. As she grows, and parts break, replacements can be easily printed.
http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/08/3d-printed-magic-arms-give-a-little-girl...


Jay Leno uses a 3D scanner and 3D printer to help make replacement parts for his cars (some parts can be totally fabricated on the spot while for others he generates an exact plastic replica which will be used to make a mold so a part can be cast).
http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/extras/articles/jay-lenos-3d-printer-replaces...

There were two or three companies at CES this past January showing off consumer 3D printers. I think we are closer to this tech trickling into mainstream commercial and consumer uses than people think. Hell, until last year I didn't even know this stuff existed. It will start out small and possibly unimpressive but that's part for the course for new things.




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Tim Wilson
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 13, 2012 at 10:54:51 pm

[Andrew Kimery] " It will start out small and possibly unimpressive but that's part for the course for new things."

Still waiting for my rocket car, dammit.

(This is the extended remix, released in 1986.)



Tim Wilson
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
Twitter: timdoubleyou

The typos here are most likely because I'm, a) typing this on my phone; and b) an idiot.


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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 14, 2012 at 8:04:09 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "An adjustable wrench is scanned into a computer, the 3D model is fine tuned by a 3D modeler (which isn't really shown in the video) and then printed using a 3D printer.
"


Cool looking stuff! I hadn't seen that particular printer from Z, but I am aware of other 3D printers on the market. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't want to use that wrench on the pipes I was working on earlier this summer, but an interesting demo none-the-less.

I still think we are many years--probably a half century--away from an affordable consumer printer that will even begin to fill people's daily needs. In 3001, Clarke makes lots of interesting predictions, like a large, cheep chemical 3D printer that is able to provide for most of the wants on the planet. As I recall, in the short term, it causes an economic catastrophe, but one that is soon recovered from. I think he put such an event two to three centuries in the future. Of course, what he envisions involves not only wrenches but clothing manufacture and food production.

Right now 3D printers are only commercially fit for prototyping and expensive exotic needs. It will be a very long time before they will be able to economically compete with the current--and rather sophisticated--manufacture/distribution chain. Certainly, the price of printers will come down. Unsophisticated units have been in the hands of hobbyists for some time, and maybe within the next decade someone will mass produce something like Z's stuff so that hobbyists and less well-healed designers will be able to afford something of that ilk. But it is going to be a VERY long time before these things sit in the average person's home as a delivery unit. I think big box hardware is still safe for a wee bit.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 1:10:42 am

10yrs can be a pretty long time in this day and age. I mean, in 2002 if you told the people running companies like Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City and Virgin Megastore that they'd be gone inside a decade mainly because of the Internet I'm sure they would've called a cab to take you back to Bellevue. 10-15yrs from now a lot of landscapes are going to look pretty different.

I think there's two levels of thing that are in motion right now. First, a 'desktop revolution' will happen the same way it did for publishing/printing, music recording, editing, DVD creation and even color correction. Small shops and independent artist will open up their own studios for a fraction of what the established players can and both creators and consumers will start having choices where as they really only had have one before. Second, tech savvy consumers will grab free 3D models from other online users and print a variety of things from simple kids toys to plastic sprinkler heads and peg-board organizers.

Check out these free 3D models of Brio toy train track sections. This is the type of thing that's on my mind.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:22244

Toys for young kids and game pieces are usually pretty basic and will probably be some of the easier things to replicate using prosumer and/or consumer 3D printers. In 2022 why buy high margin tracks for toy trains and Hot Wheels when you can conveniently and inexpensively print them at home?

This begs the question, how will these companies react? Will they sue? Does Brio own copyright over the dimensions of its tracks? Will they embrace it and sell direct-to-print 3D models themselves? How will this further harm brick and mortar retailers? I don't think this is any sort of doomsday scenario but a sizable disruption is coming.




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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 3:15:46 am

[Andrew Kimery] "10yrs can be a pretty long time in this day and age. I mean, in 2002 if you told the people running companies like Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City and Virgin Megastore that they'd be gone inside a decade mainly because of the Internet I'm sure they would've called a cab to take you back to Bellevue. "

I hate to disagree, but the Internet threat to CDs and DVDs was pretty well understood by all at that point, and if you were anything more than a journeyman PC user, obvious a good five years before that. So, Bellevue, no.


[Andrew Kimery] "I think there's two levels of thing that are in motion right now. First, a 'desktop revolution' will happen the same way it did for publishing/printing, music recording, editing, DVD creation and even color correction. Small shops and independent artist will open up their own studios for a fraction of what the established players can and both creators and consumers will start having choices where as they really only had have one before. Second, tech savvy consumers will grab free 3D models from other online users and print a variety of things from simple kids toys to plastic sprinkler heads and peg-board organizers.
"


I just don't see it. I see it becoming a popular hobby once these printers get down in price from 40-100 grand to something under 5. But I just don't think that they, as they are currently constituted, will provide any serious competition to the existing supply chain. You say they offer more choice, but I say they offer far less. Yes, certain aspects of custom configuration would be easier, but many others would be impossible. For one thing, everything has to be made out of the same material. Let's say you want some dinner plates--yes, you can eventually have your uncle doing a Bruce Springsteen impression stenciled into the center of each plate, but you can't have a plate of wood, or clay, or glass, or crockery, or even a different weight and texture of plastic. This might not matter if plates were in short supply, or inordinately expensive, but they're not. You can get any kind of plate you want right now for not very much, including having some company put your uncle singing Born in the USA right in the center of one. Or on the side of a mug, etc.

I just don't see what competitive value a printer like this would bring to the average consumer, other than a bit of fun. And, to be able to turn a 40-100 grand printer into a mass consumer device, you'd have to sell it for far, far less than 5 grand for enough users to realize any value in it.

I think people will open shops with the thing. I'm certain it will have a place in local, small volume manufacturing, but I don't think my time frame is that far off. We are so flooded with inexpensive versions of almost anything that printer can make, that most people won't have an incentive.


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Michael Gissing
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 4:07:05 am

Chris, I think your pricing is a bit off. There are open source printers that basically self replicate. Starter kits around $600

http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page

And low cost semi industrial units like an Airwolf 3D around $1,600 built & calibrated-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing (about 2/3rd down the page)


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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 4:28:09 am

[Michael Gissing] "Chris, I think your pricing is a bit off. There are open source printers that basically self replicate. Starter kits around $600

http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page

And low cost semi industrial units like an Airwolf 3D around $1,600 built & calibrated-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing (about 2/3rd down the page)

"


We were talking about the Z printer which is quite a bit more sophisticated than either the Airwolf or the available kits. As far as I can tell, it starts around 40 grand. The question is not whether these things are of value, but whether they can compete with or replace the current distribution system. The "Shamrock Shot Glasses" that you can make with the Airwolf don't even begin to enter into competition with cheap, readily available alternatives.

I think there is a lot of value in 3D printers. I just don't see them as a challenge to Target or Home Depot for many years to come.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 7:23:08 pm

[Chris Harlan] "I hate to disagree, but the Internet threat to CDs and DVDs was pretty well understood by all at that point, and if you were anything more than a journeyman PC user, obvious a good five years before that. So, Bellevue, no.

So in '97, when DVD players were over a grand, 56k modems were a year away and physical mail was still more popular than email it was obvious to anyone that was computer literate that the disruption from Internet sales and/or delivery services such as Amazon, iTMS and Netflix would happen in the time frame that it did? Honestly I think that's a little revisionist and certainly isn't how I recall it. I was building x86 boxes and established a regular Internet presence around that time so I feel like I was sufficiently geeky to pick up on info like that.

Sure, there was the "someday we'll do X and Y and Z over the Internet" but I don't remember it being a forgone conclusion that in less than 15 years Internet sales and distribution would upend established companies and watching HD (wait this is '97, what's HD?) streams on any one of a number of Internet connected devices would be as common place as flipping a light switch.

With all that being said, I did say if you talked to the heads of those companies as opposed to if you talked to someone that might be more forward thinking. Those company heads, and others like them, at best underestimated the time frame of consumer adoption of this new tech or at worst were in denial of what was going on. Back then, just like now, I heard people say things like "Well people like the shopping experience. There's some thing nice about browsing through a rack of CDs/DVDs/Misc Physical Item that you just can't get when shopping on line." Obviously the desire to shop at a physical store isn't as important as some people thought it was. Personally I enjoyed thumbing through racks of albums waiting for cover art to jump out a me or digging through the shelves at bookstores seeing if there are any gems waiting to be found. Now I'll find what I want on Amazon and it's at my place in two days w/free shipping or I'll buy the digital copy and start enjoying it immediately.


[Chris Harlan] "For one thing, everything has to be made out of the same material."

ABS plastic is the most common (and might be the only option currently for consumer grade printers) but metal and strong composite materials are possible with industrial grade gear. I never implied it would be great for everything and that's why I limited my examples to things I think it could be good at. Ceramic dinner plates? No. Plastic dishes for kids? Maybe (not sure if the material is food-grade or not). Basic plastic children's toys? Sure (even remote controlled cars if you go the kit route). Basic tools? Sure, but down the road.

[Chris Harlan] "We were talking about the Z printer which is quite a bit more sophisticated than either the Airwolf or the available kits.
.
.
.

I think there is a lot of value in 3D printers. I just don't see them as a challenge to Target or Home Depot for many years to come."


I was talking about 3D printers in general (sorry if that wasn't clear) and, like I said, I'm not going all doom and gloom on retail stores but in 10-15yrs I think 3D printing will have become a disruptive force. I doubt Target and Home Depot would go under but they might have the reorganize their priorities. I mean, the floor space given to CDs and videogames at Target is certainly smaller than it used to be and it seems to be more common for Targets to be full fledged grocery stores these days.

This past January I think was the first time legal music download sales equalled physical album sales (and that's after years of CD sales being in free fall) so I'm not predicting a future w/o physical sales by any means. I just think that in 10yrs or so we'll have a disruption in an area most people wouldn't expect it. Someone might say, "Digital movies, books and TV shows... sure those are all just 1's and 0's but I make things that are real. I make things that you can't just beam around the world in an instant." Well, pretty much anything can be scanned and turned into 1's and 0's and 3D printer tech seems to be coming along so I think this is going to be another ding against those that make and/or sell physical items. I, for one, am looking forward to a day when I can easily and inexpensively print my own cell phone case as opposed to paying 29.99 for $1 worth of molded plastic.




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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 8:02:20 pm

[Andrew Kimery] "[Chris Harlan] "I hate to disagree, but the Internet threat to CDs and DVDs was pretty well understood by all at that point, and if you were anything more than a journeyman PC user, obvious a good five years before that. So, Bellevue, no.

So in '97, when DVD players were over a grand, 56k modems were a year away and physical mail was still more popular than email it was obvious to anyone that was computer literate that the disruption from Internet sales and/or delivery services such as Amazon, iTMS and Netflix would happen in the time frame that it did? "


With respect, I didn't say anything about online stores. The big fear then was (and still is) mass pirating. I don't know about you, but I had WinAmp back in '97. I was ripping CDs and turning them into digital files. Remember all of the online MP3 sharing on UseNet that began around '96/97, and all of the fear that it would be the end of the recording industry? The DMCA in '98. And then Napster? And the RIAA suits in 99? The download services you mention are the answer to THAT problem, not a direct attack on brick and mortar stores.


[Andrew Kimery] "Honestly I think that's a little revisionist and certainly isn't how I recall it. I was building x86 boxes and established a regular Internet presence around that time so I feel like I was sufficiently geeky to pick up on info like that."

Maybe its just because I was around the entertainment business, and so, more acutely felt the anguish of others in that business.

As to the rest, I'm not in some sort of super-disagreement with you. Printers like that will certainly have an impact, but I think a printer will have to be as good as the Z printer is now to begin to have an impact. Generally, I think that they can change the way a lot of things are done. I even believe that Arthur C. Clarke's printer will someday be available. We just disagree over the timeline.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 15, 2012 at 10:22:48 pm

[Chris Harlan] "With respect, I didn't say anything about online stores. The big fear then was (and still is) mass pirating. I don't know about you, but I had WinAmp back in '97. I was ripping CDs and turning them into digital files. Remember all of the online MP3 sharing on UseNet that began around '96/97, and all of the fear that it would be the end of the recording industry? The DMCA in '98. And then Napster? And the RIAA suits in 99? The download services you mention are the answer to THAT problem, not a direct attack on brick and mortar stores."

I had mentioned online stores before. Chalk that up to an Internet communication SNAFU.

Yeah, things like the Diamond Rio case my campus blocking file sharing ports so people had to run through proxy servers to get around it. Even if they weren't directly in the line of fire, the B&M stores still got hammered. The major labels are still around but lots of local music stores are not and the floor space devoted music in stores like Best Buy is miniscule.

A while back I was driving by a Best Buy so I swung in to the pick up the latest Rush album and the CD section was tiny and off the side. I was taken back which goes to show you the last time I bought an album at a store. Honestly, I think the last Album I bought at a store was in 05 or 06. I pretty much order all of my CDs from Internet sellers and buy a few tracks or albums as downloads.

Back on topic, it sounds like the people running some of these companies weren't listening to the right people because they either ignored the situation until it was too late, never believed it would become a problem and/or thought they could contain it.


[Chris Harlan] "We just disagree over the timeline."

In 12 years we'll have to remember to revisit this thread and someone will owe someone else a beer. Regardless of who is right I'll even print up custom beer mugs for the occasion!




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Chris Harlan
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 16, 2012 at 12:08:50 am

[Andrew Kimery] "In 12 years we'll have to remember to revisit this thread and someone will owe someone else a beer. Regardless of who is right I'll even print up custom beer mugs for the occasion!

"


LOL. In twelve years I'm guessing that they will be substantially better than the current crop of Shamrock Shot Glasses.


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Chris Jacek
Re: USA Today on the future of retail shopping.
on Aug 16, 2012 at 2:17:22 am

First of all, can I just say that my mind is blown. I knew this technology was out there, but I guess I thought it was still in the theoretical realm rather than the practical.

I tend to agree that 10 years is closer to reality than 50 years. But I do not think consumer printers would be used for everything. But think about much of what we buy now. Lots of plastic gadgets, utensils, etc.., Many more than we used to buy, because they are actually cheaper than they used to be, thanks to cheap labor and the industrial infrastructure overseas. Those things could be made cheaper, and more importantly, more customized.

Things like toys, kitchen utensils, sunglasses, phone cases, etc.., could be made in any color or pattern you want. As a Michigan grad, a maize and blue spatula with a block M on it might appeal to me. Today, I could probably get it online, and it would probably be very overpriced. And what if wanted something from XYZ Art College instead. There's no chance that such an item would even exist.

My guess is that most people won't have these printers in their homes in 10 years, but I'll bet they buy products made on them. Imagine a Kinko's type store down the street that has a few of the nicer versions of the printer. You could place your order online, and go pick it up like you might pick up you photos from Walgreens. And you could probably have your photo made into a spatula. Or pick up 50 sets of customized tumblers and plates for the office birthday party.

Again, I don't think we are all going to have printers in our house that make every household item we use. But I think a fair number of things we already buy could either be made at home, or could easily be made for same-day pickup in town, and made exactly to our specifications. All for a modest mark-up that will still keep the prices low enough to keep us addicted to "must have" fads.

Professor, Producer, Editor
and former Apple Employee


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