The Industry Unicorn

June 11th, 2009 | Category: From the Daily Editor

Call me hopeful, but I’m guessing that by now many of you have noticed that my blog hasn’t been updated in quite some time. There’s only one explanation for this–some of us are having a tough time adapting to the web from print.

By now, there is one thing that’s easy to predict about the Internet–it’s limitless. At this point, I’m convinced that all forms of media will converge on this medium. In fact, I would like to correct my previous statement from “will” to “have.” The convergence is over. The internet now delivers the same types of content once only found on radio, television, in movie theaters, and through newspapers, magazines and other types of print media. What’s difficult to predict about the Internet is at what rate it will devour these other delivery mechanisms. Call me hopeful, but I believe the others will always be in place, but there’s no doubt that the web will eat more than its fair share. At the core of the issue lies the word “digital.” Once something–music, images, text, you name it–is digital, it can then be delivered via the web, where the “press” is immediate for all the world to see and/or hear.

One of the hardest hit in this equation is clearly the newspaper industry. Once upon a time classified ads, weekly ad flyers and daily news were good enough. Now, most print classified sections are hanging by a thread in the wake of Craig’s List, eBay and other online services. Not surprisingly, it seems entire newspapers are giving way to an appetite for immediacy and the Internet’s ability to deliver.

It’s hard to focus on the long term future of any industry. It’s even more difficult to determine what that is and how to prepare for it. I think I’ve raised some eyebrows in recent times by harping on the subject of photovoltaic (PV) window film. At the present, PV films are a reality; but PV window film (as in an add on product) is an industry unicorn. We have had several clues that indicate it’s coming, but there have been no sightings to date. Konarka Technologies Inc. used the words “photovoltaic” and “window film” together for the first time in January of 2008. And Konarka hasn’t unveiled such a product yet, but it is edging closer by bringing its Power Plastic product to the fenestration industry as a transparent interlayer for glass.

There’s an interesting parallel between Konarka’s story and that of print versus Internet media. You see, while print gives way to digital, and “plain” (non-energy-generating) glass gives way to PV glass, the company has discovered a way to knock the dust off of old printing factories and use them to create Power Plastic. Konarka recently purchased an old Polaroid factory (Anyone seen the new digital version of this dinosaur? Yep – still at it.) and converted it into a PV film factory. All of that old equipment used to create photo paper is now producing one of the most advanced film products to date.

Future technologies aren’t difficult to predict. What’s difficult to predict is the speed and velocity with which they will arrive. It’s not a question of “Will all windows one day produce energy?” it’s “Will window film help them do it?”

There, it’s done. My blog is no longer a unicorn. Now it’s back to the next edition of print.

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