Connected devices get some Best Buy love

According to a report from ABI Research, Best Buy is planning to set up displays in store to showcase devices connected to the Internet (TV’s, Set-top boxes and blue ray players).  The hope is that with a bit of education, consumer adoption will get a push, lighting sales in all areas of Internet driven electronics.  According to ABI, Internet connected living room devices are expected to become a mainstream feature in 2013, with 19% of all flat panels shipping this year to showcase Ethernet.  Of course, we’ve all been to Best Buy displays where they don’t work or the sales staff knows less about the features then today’s educated consumer, but what will all this mean to marketers?

As the hardware evolves, so will the software and the business models that push content through those new applications.  You can imagine a world in the near future where televisions last longer because the renewed focus on hardware and CPU capabilities pushes for an improvement on overall system performance.  In these scenarios, you really will be asking, what’s the chip inside?  And an entire generation of people will grow up with never experiencing the separation of broadband from broadcast.

Savvy marketers should be exploring partnerships with content owners now as these two worlds collide.  Since we’ve entered an “application” driven world, delivering utility through these partnerships makes the most sense, like a wellness brand partnering with a well know medical authority and populating a TV widget for healthcare questions or a retail outlet creating “how to” content to bring more value to a product and drive CRM around the use of that product.

Right now it’s about Facebook on Xbox but soon there will be no distinguishing line between accessing your “friends” and exploring a game, a movie or TV show.  Soon, all “screens” in the home  will connect out to the cloud, including home information management (control the lights, temperature, security), personal media (photos, music, home movies) and healthcare solutions (Microsoft’s Healthvault, Intel’s healthguide).

The speed of this world will move fast, so there is little time for wait-and-see.   Developing an “innovation team” is the smartest way to keep ahead and in the game. Best Buy’s move may be a small step to increasing sales but it’s evidence of  the connected world that lies ahead.

Meanwhile, Best Buy has also announced extensive expansion plans to open 1000 Best Buy Mobile stores over the next year.  This model may prove the ultimate advantage for the consumer, providing them with the ability to compare multiple devices and service plans in one environment without the tedious rebate scenarios and other confusing sales plans.